When you have a popup with buttons yes and no like this:

| YES | NO |

It is best to put the button "yes" right or left ?


6 Answers 6


Unless you already have a positive/negative position set out I would say whichever is more likely to be clicked on the right, due to a similar reason described here:


Some designers believe that putting the primary action on the left side before the secondary action is better for users because it’s closer and, therefore, takes less time to click. This makes sense, but you cannot ignore the fact that users will look at all of their options before they choose which action to take. This means that most users won’t blindly click the primary action button without also looking at the secondary action button next to it. They’ll first see the primary action on the left and then look at the secondary action on the right. Then they’ll move their eyes back to the primary action to click it. This creates a total of three visual fixations in multiple directions. Dialog

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    no one looks at all the options. they read left to right and if the first option looks good they pick it. the primary action should be on the left. unless it is a chinese interface (they read right to left) Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 20:12
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    @nathanhayfield Where are you getting that information? Also, next time you click on the left side option of a dialog, try to think back on what the alternative was, I'm pretty sure you'll remember. Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 20:13
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    @nathanhayfield: Chinese is left-to-right when written horizontally, and you should source your claim that people read buttons the same way they read body text.
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 20:14
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    @nathanhayfield If it's just your opinion it would make sense to state that, don't try and pass your opinions off as authority. Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 20:21
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    @nathanhayfield You claim that the default has always been on the left. While that may be true for you since "dos 3.0" as windows has displayed them that way, Mac OS has displayed them so that the default would be the farthest right. With no data aside from "windows does it that way" we cannot declare that the best way to do it. Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 16:41

First some personal appreciation, then some sources :

1) I think is less about the positive or negative than the flow in the process.

ex :

Do you want to save before leaving ? Yes / No

Is not good UX

Save before leaving ? Save / Leave without saving / Cancel

Is good UX

That is to say, most of the time a question which answer is Yes / No is not relevant.

2) The fact that positive should be on the right is not so obvious :

Basecamp that is really a leader in our field does not follow this convention

enter image description here

Also some reading : http://www.nngroup.com/articles/okndashcancel-or-cancelndashok/

and a synthesis of it :

  • It's often better to name a button to explain what it does than to use a generic label (like "OK"). An explicit label serves as "just-in-time help," giving users more confidence in selecting the correct action.
  • Make the most commonly selected button the default and highlight it (except if its action is particularly dangerous; in those cases, you want users to explicitly select the button rather than accidentally activating it by hitting Enter).
  • If you're designing a desktop application for one of these two personal computer platforms, your choice is easy: Do what the platform owner tells you to do .
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    +1. Label buttons descriptively, because that's all the user is going to read anyway! Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 16:56

This question arises almost in every UX conference. The answer that makes the most sense is: always follow your target operating system guidelines. Your application should not look like an exotic that doesn't fit it. The user should feel that the same user experience provided by his operating system should extend to your own application. So if you are targeting Windows, it should be Ok/ Cancel. If you are targeting Mac it should be Cancel / Ok . If you are writing a web application, you have more freedom. Most usability studies show that Cancel / Ok work best. But this doesn't mean it will work for your users. Whatever you decide to do, test with your users.


Personally, I would say it depends. I tend to put the confirmation button on the right and the cancel/back button on the left.
So, in the case of a popup: "Do you really want delete this page", I would put the "Yes" button to the right and the "No" button to the left.

  • Shouldn't this be a comment? This is entirely opinion based with out any empirical reasoning.
    – xdumaine
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 14:02
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    swap that, the yes goes on the left because people read left to right. Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 15:29

As most designers use Apple computers, they feel that putting the primary action last is "the right choice".
Windows does the opposite and IMO in this case they are right.
Anyway, what is important is to make the primary action much more noticeable than the others, so a user who was able to fill the blanks without a glitch can go straight to it without even throwing a glance to the other options, capture the oversized target quickly and move on.
The other users (who will be very few due to the high quality of the UI) will slow down forced to read the other options and choose one, and they'll manage to find it even if it's much smaller or much less noticeable.
My point is, design for a single big noticeable button, and don't worry about tossing the other options around it, possibly not too close to prevent accidental clicks.
This is being done so in many login forms, where the "forgon password" and "register" options are small links.


The trouble with Yes/No dialogs is that the question really matters, and users often don't read the question.

Compare this:

It has been 15 minutes since the last save. Do you want to save?
| Yes | No |

to this:

It has been 15 minutes since the last save. Do you want to throw away your changes without saving?
| Yes | No |

to this:

It has been 15 minutes since the last save. Do you want to save?
| Save | Don't save |

Did you notice that the "Yes" button on the first dialog does the opposite of the "Yes" button on the second dialog? Don't you think "Save" and "Don't save" are much clearer button labels?

To me, it's clear that labelling buttons clearly provides the best UX, and that "Yes" or "No" are not clear labels. Label the buttons in a way that is understandable even without reading the text surrounding the button. Remember, don't make the user think.

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