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I have an invoice page with a button to make a payment. The payment button triggers a series of modals for collecting user payment info (credit card/check details, billing details, payment Confirmation).

Is there a standard or best-practice for clearing the fields in series of modals?

For example, should I be including a Cancel button on each modal that will clear all of the fields on all of the modals?

Should clicking the Close button in the upper-right of the modal, or clicking on the modal overlay also clear the fields? Or, should I be leaving the fields populated in case the user accidentally clicks on the overlay or just wants to look at the content behind the modal?

Right now I have a Cancel button on the first modal and a Back button on subsequent modals, but I am leaving the user information in the fields until the payment is processed or the user closes the tab/window.

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Respect the user's time

There will be many reasons why a user wants to dismiss a modal dialog box—other content that they need to check, for reassurance, things they need to look up, interruptions they need to handle first.

Therefore, respect the user's effort and retain the data they entered, as long as only the current user will see this. (Don't confuse others by showing incomplete work that belongs to another user.)

If you think the user might be confused, you can cue them when they re-open the modal:

Do you want to continue your previous entry?

Obviously, don't ask this if there isn't any meaningful data in the previous entry, such as only the date.

Test your solution

Then test it with users to see whether they want to be prompted. You may decide to remove the prompt altogether, or give users the option to "Don't show this again".

I hope that helps you move forward.

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    Thanks for the feedback @JeromeR. I'm getting a lot of push-back from the managers/QA people saying that the sensitive data should be cleared, but I agree with your statements about respecting the user's time and effort. I will probably accept this answer, but I will hold off in case there are any other suggestions, since this site's activity is a bit less active that StackOverflow. I appreciate your time and response. – Jeff Jenkins Nov 16 '15 at 21:37
  • Security is a legitimate concern. Think about the level of security—don't impose something more stringent on data-entry than on other tasks, such as viewing and reporting. (Do users sign in before they can see or report any data? is that sufficient also for entering data?) – JeromeR Nov 17 '15 at 8:36

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