I am currently working on an Android application where in users see a list of items and they can swipe to delete them, or shake to delete them. But I received various comments from my colleagues that it will not be intuitive to the user. Is just providing a message that such actions are possible above the list a good design principle? Or is there any other better way to let users know of such a thing exists without providing the message.

I have considered an option of having an introductory video or this message. But I just want to know from the experts to review if my thinking is the right way.

Thanks, Rajaraman R

  • Just to add, yes, this idea of shake is influenced from ios apps. Oct 15, 2014 at 15:07

2 Answers 2


Swipe to delete or "remove from view" is slowly becoming an accepted gesture in the mobile community. As mentioned in other responses, this action is already common on iOS, many Android phones use swiping to allow users to dismiss notifications, and even the Gmail uses swipe to archive emails and remove them from the inbox. So although it may not seem intuitive as a stand alone action, it is building off of other 'interactive languages' that users have already become familiar with by interacting with several other applications. As long as the visual language communicates that an object can be deleted, it is likely that users will immediately resort to gestures that they are already familiar with and you will probably not need a prompt.

A general concept in UX is to build off of what people already know so they don't have to learn a new 'interactive language' for every program they use, and so you don't have to reinvent the wheel; especially if it's a common action that most apps have such as save, close, and delete. By this point in time in mobile development, plenty of research has been done for common interactions and gestures which big companies, like Apple and Microsoft, use to create interactive interfaces. If the majority of programs are not using shake to delete, someone has probably proven in research that it's not the best UX practice, so it's more than likely not a good idea to use it in your own app.

One last tip: Although using common best practices is a good way to get started in the right direction, it is always a better idea to test out application interaction. Testing can mean grabbing a few people who know nothing about the program and just asking them to carry out simple tasks while doing your best to remain unbiased and not lead their actions (without using action terms like click, tap, swipe). If you hand this program to someone and tell them to delete an item, see how they try to carry out that action: if they're all trying to swipe, then use swipe; if they try to tap and hold. use tap and hold. On the other hand, keep an eye out for disruptions in their experience: if they accidentally shake the phone and it deletes something, don't use shake; if they don't read the prompt and just start swiping, then you probably don't need it; or if they can't figure out how to delete anything at all, then explore other options.

Sorry for the long winded response, hope this helps!

  • Yes. I am thinking of providing a prompt. But the confusion is that should that prompt be constant for the page or provide as a one time note. That's where I need some guidance. @SheTeeples But thanks for a detailed explanation. Meanwhile I will be try to play with other popular applications to see how they handle the situation and learn from them. Oct 15, 2014 at 14:05

I would avoid shake to delete as if someone is using the app on the move a shake could happen by accident on a bumpy bus ride or similar.

Also although you are developing an Android app, iOS uses shake for undo, so may confuse users with iOS experience.

Swipe to reveal a Delete button or swipe all the way to Delete has become common on iOS, so might not seem too unfamiliar to users. Also I think the Gmail app on Android uses the swipe to delete archive gesture.

  • In the Gmail app on my Android tablet, swiping email messages archives them. Oct 15, 2014 at 13:18
  • @KenMohnkern I'm an iOS over Android user, so wasn't 100% on that. Thanks for clarifying. Oct 15, 2014 at 13:31
  • The point, I guess, is that there's no consistency between platforms, or even between apps. Oct 15, 2014 at 18:54

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