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I am developing an app for tablets and was considering moving the back button to the top left, but I would have to make the change in a few places and was wondering how much of an effect it would really have.

Any other criticisms / advice is welcome

See the screen shots bellow:

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3 Answers 3

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The positioning of the back button isn't very good in either of the screenshots. They go easily unregistered since they're out of place and very small, risk making the user frustrated since she won't know how to navigate properly.

The third screenshot shows the back button ordered in the same group as Delete and New, buttons for manipulating the content. Back is not manipulating the content, it's navigation. So the button doesn't really work there either.

If you can't find the time to adjust the layout so that it follows the design guidelines for the platform then at least put a label next to the ◀, so that it reads ◀ Back and is thereby more easily registered, both in size and description.

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  • What do you mean by "design guidelines for the platform" and could you suggest a new position for the back button?
    – Elliot
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:03
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    @Elliot I suspected at first that this was an Android application, looking at the text input fields, but I thought the action bar looked like Metro, so it could just as well be for Windows mobile. That's why I said platform, since I don't know. If it's for Android then the Back action should be in the top left, up in the action bar. If it's for Windows mobile then I'm not sure, not familiar with their UI. This information can be found on their respective developer sites, here's Android, Windows you'll have to google. Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 15:46
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I think the bottom left would be a fine place for it, without being too much work to change. It is better than the bottom center, because it would be the same on all screens.

Also, adding the word "back" next to the arrow would help. I don't think it is highlighted enough without this.

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My thinking is that the back button should follow the same metaphor as the browser bar. Its the same rationale that apple follows for their IOS interfaces where the back button is above next to the title.

This is because of context. Anything below the title is encounter specific (or page specific data) but a back button is outside of this context.

Long story short, i'd put the back button at the top. You may want to run some user testing to validate that premise. Show people the design and ask them how they would go back. If it takes more that 1-3 seconds, something is wrong with the interface.

You can also experiment with the look of the button. A back arrow, or a BACK / RETURN / CANCEL in words could help make it clearer (and is slightly more semantic)

Comments about 1-3 seconds. Normally navigation elements are expected to be in specific areas of the page, taking excessive amounts of time to find them is a serious usability issue.

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