The back button is ubiquitous in Windows 8 ("Metro") apps.

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What exactly is its meaning? The Microsoft apps I have seen and the Visual Studio page templates use the button in a chronological manner (back to the page you came from).

But I am currently developing some apps where chronological navigation sometimes does not really make sense (*) and I'm tempted to use the back button for hierarchical navigation instead (back to the page that is above the current one).

Is this a good idea? Does it break user expectations? Does it break the Microsoft UX guidelines or maybe even cause problems during certification?

(*) Think of a game, for example: You go from the start page to a level overview page to a page where you play the selected level. When the level is finished, navigation automatically jumps to the level overview. Now, it would be strange if the back button brought you back to play the level (again?) instead of the start page, or not?

1 Answer 1


2 different usage patterns mentioned in the Win 8 UX navigation pattern guidelines:

Initial pattern says Back button should take you back to previously visited page and not hierarchy.

Header and Back button:

The header labels the current page and is useful for wayfinding. The Back button makes it fast to get back to where you were.

Further down there is another example which mentions:

The header menu contains a link to each section page (level 2) as well as a link back to the hub (level 1), enabling users to move around the app quickly.

Based on this, I would answer your question with: Do some user testing and find out which way feels more intuitive to your app and use that.

  • Could you please add a link to the corresponding guidelines? Commented May 15, 2013 at 13:41
  • @SebastianNegraszus my bad, forgot to include it :)
    – rk.
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 13:41

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