For instance, a "Delete" button leads to a confirmation message of "Are you Sure - Yes / No".

Any tips to make people aware of the fact that clicking on "Delete" isn't a final action.

EDIT: I think my (in hindsight poorly) chosen example may have overshadowed the intent of the question - What I'm asking is to help intuit some "non-conclusiveness" for a button that may seem conclusive and intimidating. Something like "this button does a scary thing, but don't worry because it will lead you to another chance." The first example that came to mind was "Delete" (of course buttons shouldn't do scary things, but sometimes their message can seem that way, and that's a design issue that should be corrected).

Thanks for all the advice!

  • Welcome to the site, @proggrock. Can you please clarify why you need the confirmation message in the first place? What's the purpose of making the action not "a final action"? Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 18:05
  • I think you should re-word your question to read "Any tips to make people aware of the fact that clicking on "Delete" isn't an immediately executed action."
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 18:31
  • 2
    I think I do not understand the purpose of the question, as you are saying you want to display a warning about the confirmation, Wich is irregular behaviour.
    – DrWael
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 19:32
  • @DrWael I heavily agree. It reminds me of the process for feeding a child some food which they don't like; "Here comes the confirmation message, choo-choo :-)"
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 19:42
  • Unless the action being taken by the user requires the user to receive more information in the resulting view/dialog, it is not necessary to make the user confirm—on the contrary—it is actually a nuisance. You should instead encourage users to be decisive in their actions and afford them the opportunity to Undo if a mistake is made.
    – jsejcksn
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:59

4 Answers 4


I think the only way to warn users that a confirmation will follow, is to use a conventional symbol. Because a standard symbol for this purpose does not exist, you have to establish one in your application. You have to use the symbol consistently in all screens of your applications, so that users will create an implicit connection between the symbol and the warning message. Also, explicitly notify your users about the new symbol through e-mail or through a temporary help text in one or two frequently visited screens. The temporary help text must be removed after a few days.

The symbol that you will use must be obvious but not obtrusive and must blend with the rest of your design. You must use subtle cues like a thin light yellow rectangle, a warning icon or three dots (three dots are also used when there are additional options).

enter image description here


According to the very good reference by @EdPlunkett the trailing ellipsis for confirmations is a documented standard :

Use an ellipsis in the name of a button or menu item when the associated action:

Always displays an alert that warns the user of a potentially dangerous outcome and offers an alternative. For example, Restart, Shut Down, and Log Out all use an ellipsis because they always display an alert that asks the user for confirmation and allows the user to cancel the action. Note that Close does not have an ellipsis because it displays an alert only in certain circumstances (specifically, only when the document or file being closed has unsaved changes).

Also, I found this reference from Microsoft :

Using ellipses

While command buttons are used for immediate actions, more information might be needed to perform the action. Indicate a command that needs additional information (including confirmation) by adding an ellipsis at the end of the button label.


Proper use of ellipses is important to indicate that users can make further choices before performing the action, or even cancel the action entirely. The visual cue offered by an ellipsis allows users to explore your software without fear.

According to the above references, the other two options I recommended are invalid, the trailing ellipsis seems to be the most appropriate symbol. But I do not know how many users really know this convention, and I still believe it is important to communicate this to users explicitly somehow.

  • 22
    In Windows, on a menu item or a button, a trailing elipsis means "this will pop up a dialog", which usually implies a chance to back out of the action (barring a very poorly designed dialog, but that's not the case here). That seems to be recommended practice on MacOS as well. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 17:03
  • 4
    These come closest to what I imagined as an effective signal, though the triangle seems to say if "I've done something wrong but I can fix it when I click the button" - I'd be misinterpreting that. Anyway the elipsis would work well (in light of @Ed's linked recommendation) - thanks!
    – proggrock
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 18:07
  • 8
    OS X does indeed use the ellipsis style: imgur.com/zvKTlvD
    – tomsmeding
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 18:41
  • 11
    Would you mind editing your answer? A standard symbol does exist: an ellipsis. The button should read Submit... with no space. There's no need to invent anything or e-mail anybody. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:34
  • 9
    i know i'm just one person, but the last icon is very strange to me. that doesn't make it seem like a confirmation will appear; but rather, it seems like a warning that i haven't done something else on the page properly. i doubt i would try to click it at all.
    – user428517
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 22:55

You can add Step Number to let them know that there are other steps ahead. I have attached a snapshot just for reference. enter image description here

  • 1
    This is a good idea. A navigation guide, similar to the shopping carts will make sense too (Select items -> Choose options -> *Review order* -> Make payment)
    – AKS
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 19:41
  • While a good wizard doesn't do anything until it is finished; I wouldn't be particularly surprised if one deleted a bunch of files in step 2 and then did something more in step 3. In the order example, "Review order" could just as easily be the last step, but arguably "Make payment" is the "scary bit".
    – Odalrick
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 12:51
  • 1
    I realise this is just an mocked-up example but, to me, "Are you sure you want to delete this folder?" when the only option is "next" is pretty scary-looking. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 23:20
  • Yes, its just a mockup for letting the users know what I am actually talking about. Obviously, the message will be different, the actions can be different, like 'To remove selected files, please click next' ..and so on :)
    – Fasih
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 9:54

Delete is a destructive feature, so if you have not implemented an undo or trashcan feature in your solution, the extra "Are you sure" step is to ensure they really mean to do this, because it will be lost for ever.

I recommend you enhance this extra step to explain why you are making sure they really want to do this. You might even want to consider a "Don't show this next time" feature, because this extra step can really start to annoy people after a while.

Ideally you would implement and undo or trashcan feature, which would mean you won't need this extra step.

  • Hi @Splatz I completely agree implementing undo would be ideal, but due to some limitations I'm tied to the "Are You Sure" confirmation. I'd like to clue the user in to their second chance opportunity, and prove they really meant to perform the action.
    – proggrock
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 15:47
  • I guessed that would be the case - it would be more work for the developers to implement. I would argue that we are not in the business in making solutions to benefit the developers - if you want great solutions you sometimes have to do a lot of work behind the scenes. In any case if you are stuck with the extra confirmation step for now, you don't need to clue the user - just explain why you are asking "Are you sure". Also consider "Don't show this next time" to suppress the confirmation step, because this WILL annoy people.
    – SteveD
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 15:53

For the specific case of item deletion there's a widely implemented that works as a doublecheck, but in a more intuitive way. Windows has a recycle bin, gmail has a trash folder. When you throw things in a trashbin you can still pick them out and dust them off again. Although some systems have an automatic/periodic clean up moment.

So for a non-final deletion solution, name the option "move to trash".

If it is merely a final warning popup, ask yourself why you want to communicate that. Those popups intentionally serve as an extra step, to prevent accidents. Teaching people to just doubleclick will make it automatic, and that will make it a less effective safeguard.

  • I think my delete button was a poor example as the question was meant to be more to be about signaling a continuation of a process via button click rather than a delete strategy, but still you gave me some good ideas for handling deletion +1
    – proggrock
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 18:19

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