Consider the following scenario for an online checkout/purchase process...

User goes through the application and enters all their information and billing information. User then clicks "Complete Purchase".

The completePurchase call can take around 10 seconds.

If the user clicks back during the wait animation that displays during the Complete Purchase call, from a user experience standpoint, what would be the best desired outcome?

Some thoughts to consider...

  • Do we complete the purchase or cancel it?
  • Do we add an error message if they try to purchase it again after going back?
  • Do we let them go back where they want to, but as soon as the purchase call completes in the background, send them to the Order Summary page?

Trying to come up with a solution that doesn't break the user expectations and doesn't go against native browser functionality that's meant to be there.

Any ideas?

1 Answer 1


I believe you should go back to the previous page/step and go with the second option, where the user is notified the purchase has been cancelled and give him the option to go back and try again (they might have chosen to click back to correct something, so they'd expect the operation to be cancelled/paused). but take these things in consideration:

  • During the completePurchase call, give clear feedback that the system is working and that any navigation away from that page will cancel the operation. (maybe an overlay with a message and progress bar/throbber on the page)

  • When they do click the back button, If the previous state is a step in the checkout process, take them back to that step, not to the shopping cart or previous page.

Bottom line is, 1. don't violate back button expectation. As this research by Baymard puts it:

The consequences of breaking the user’s expectations of how the browser back button should behave can be dire. During our usability tests it has been the direct cause of abandonment, with users leaving test sites under much swearing and cursing (even from the well educated, mid-aged and otherwise calm test subjects). read more here: http://baymard.com/blog/back-button-expectations

2. Don't lose their data. They might have wanted to change something in their order details. Losing their data will cause probable abandonment.

  • Thanks you for the great answer! I should have probably mentioned - canceling the transaction isn't an option (not one that business is willing to fund back end refactoring for)
    – antonpug
    Aug 21, 2015 at 12:20

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