In the web application we're developing we have lists of items in which items can be clicked to access an item-details page. The list disappears, the browser navigates to a separate url that displays the item-details page.

My product manager thinks it's a good idea to have a [X] ("close") button in this item-details page, even if its main function is "go to previous page", which is a duplicate of the browser's "Back" button. His main argument is that dummy users won't know about the browser's "Back" button and will simply get stuck in the item-details page.

Another colleague states that, since users don't use the browser's "Back" button when using web applications (in opposition to "classic" websites, I guess) it's important to provide that functionality right into the page.

My opinion is that the button is useless and in the wrong context.

I think that close buttons apply to modals, dialogs and popups that actually need to be closed, but I'm not sure I'm right.

What is your opinion on this subject?

  • 2
    Firstly, where did the manager get the assumption from that 'dummy users won't know about the browser's "Back" button and will simply get stuck in the item-details page'? And secondly; where did s/he get the assumption from that a Close button will remove this problem? That's two big assumptions, with the second being an assumption based on an assumption. That's too many assumptions deep.
    – JonW
    Apr 7, 2014 at 10:50

1 Answer 1


You shouldn't use a close button. It will confuse users that understand that it's not a popup window they are seeing. I suspect that some users will fear that it closes the entire browser (or the current tab) and won't click it.

Even if the user would like a way to get back to the previous page, it's better to use a dedicated back button on which a descriptive text can be added - "Go back to list" or similar. This button will probably be untouched by some users who'll use the browsers back button, but on the other hand - if designed correctly - it won't do any harm.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.