Google often uses an undo system where an action is followed by a popup asking if you want to undo the latest action.

This is probably satisfying for the most of us - but how often do people regret the second last thing they did, and thus with this system, can't undo that? Are there any studies on how satisfied people are with this kind of design?

I like the system but I really feel that it is a potential problem since you only can undo the last step.

  • 1
    Versus what alternative? The presentation of a confirmation dialog with no way to undo after that, or a huge undo stack that would almost never be used? – Evil Closet Monkey Jan 16 '15 at 17:19
  • @EvilClosetMonkey: Presumably the latter, but that's what the study would be for, no? – Nathan Tuggy Jan 17 '15 at 0:14
  • @EvilClosetMonkey - your answer implies that the Google way is the only sensible way undo could be implemented, all others are more or less stupid. It's a bold statement... – Henrik Ekblom Jan 18 '15 at 22:35

I don't know of any studies, but I've seen Google only use that when there is only one logical action performed on the user interaction (for example: regret a deletion, or regret sending one e-mail, etc.).

You don't send many different emails when clicking "send", you only do "one deletion" when clicking "delete" (taking how their UIs are designed, for example in Gmail, you can't just keep clicking "delete", you need to "click delete, select again, click delete", etc.). This might involve multiple items (multiple e-mails, for example), but just one logical action (the deletion).

If there could be many actions involved, I've seen Google apps go with the typical stack of actions to undo always (think Google Docs/Spreadsheet editing, for example).

  • With email sending, there's also a technical constraint: once the email is actually sent, undo is impossible (you can't take back an SMTP message). The system actually imposes a delay between the send button and sending the email, but you don't want to delay sending it too long, so there's a fairly short time window to undo. Given that there's a short time window, there's even less chance you'd hit "send" for a second email while you can still undo the first. – cpast Feb 16 '15 at 19:14

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