The app works with some abstract items. Those can be shown in list or on map

Bordered button in list leads to map view and vice versa, bordered button on map leads to list view.

Everything would be fine if we hadn't to deal with hardware "Back" button. Lets imagine 3 states of navigation backstack

  1. Main -> List
  2. Main -> List -> Map
  3. Main -> List -> Map -> List -> Map -> List -> Map -> ......

Im quite unsure what "Back" button should do in cases 2 & 3. Should it lead user thru full backstack to main page ? Or should it probably only show last map and last list and then skip all other pages ?

When user changes view from list to map the current filter is preserved but can be changed via application bar button.

  • hmm, I wonder what "ж?повисное место" could possibly mean...
    – Pasha
    Mar 28, 2013 at 8:25
  • 1
    If it's an Android app (which I assume it is), the hardware back button is always a temporal back. So that is what you should do.
    – JohnGB
    Mar 28, 2013 at 9:40
  • 1
    Nope. It is not Android. It is Windows Phone.
    – Grigory
    Mar 28, 2013 at 10:19

3 Answers 3


Generally - if there is hierarchy within the navigation tree (i.e. the List -> Map -> List is actually navigable) then yes, the Back should return the user to what really was the last view. However, if there is no hierarchy (i.e. you are browsing items and always returning back to some list to select a new one), you should return the user always back to the main screen or main list depending on where they are coming from.

It's important to decide are you providing navigation for your data or navigation to your interface. In your case I would suggest you treat the List and Map buttons as separate views to the same data which means that Back is not used in the backwards navigation at all, i.e. regardless of the times the user has pressed Map or List button, (s)he is always taken back to what you refer as Main.

  • +1 for bringing sound logic to your answer. I was wondering what mental model should be conveyed here, and your solution of "seperate views of the same data" makes sense.
    – Dvir Adler
    Mar 28, 2013 at 7:45
  • Thanks for the answer! Basically there is a hierarchy in navigation and previous pages are completely saved in memory but your point about presenting those as Views seems quite reasonable. Im thinking of the way how to make user feel that this is not the different page but just another kind of view of the same data. Probably some kind of animation that smoothly changes list to map but doesn't toch Application Bar could help to bring this feeling ?
    – Grigory
    Mar 28, 2013 at 7:47
  • Visual cues should do the trick.
    – allu
    Mar 28, 2013 at 8:34
  • Precisely. Another consideration in favor of the "view, not navigation" approach is that the other buttons are actions, not navigation items. It shouldn't be affected by the back button at all. Mar 28, 2013 at 17:37

It depends, for Android devices the back button is used for temporal (back in time) navigation. On IOS back buttons are used for hierarchical navigation.

Checkout the design guidelines:

Android - pure android

IOS - Human interface guidelines

Since you mention a back button which is not in the interface, I'm guessing you are designing for android. So in that case the back button should navigate to the previous view.

  • Thanks for the answer! Actually it is WP7, not the android. Do i understand correctly that if user gets 3 levels in depth by clicking Map -> List -> Map for some reason he'd have to press Back button 3 times to get back to Main page ?
    – Grigory
    Mar 28, 2013 at 10:25
  • With some hesistance I would say this is correct, however most Android apps have also a navigation bar item to go up in the hierarchy. Check out the android design guidelines on navigation: developer.android.com/design/patterns/navigation.html What I'm trying to say with my answer is that different platforms have different standards. Be sure to check them out. Have you checked out the WP guidelines? dev.windowsphone.com/en-us/design/library
    – TomDoes
    Mar 28, 2013 at 10:38

Back - as the word says - leads back to the previous view, just like the browser's back button. This might even mean to go back to another site.

In order to navigate to the overview or list, the butten should be labelled Overview or List. The actual wording may be dependend on the context. That is clear and intuitive.

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