by anthony on 10/09/10 at 12:34 am
Who would’ve thought a button that would literally enable a system to do nothing would gain so much popularity? The Cancel button is so popular that it somehow made its way on forms. Today, their presence on forms isn’t as strong because designers are starting to realize how futile they are. However, they still exist, and I think it’s time we put the final nail in the coffin for Cancel buttons on forms.
Cancel buttons don’t belong on forms for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it gives users the opportunity to accidentally click on it when it’s mistaken for the Submit button. Removing the Cancel button completely removes the chances of this mistake happening.
A Cancel button may also communicate to users that the Back button doesn’t work on the form page. Of course, the Back button does work, but the Cancel button can give users the impression that the only way out of the form page is through the Cancel button.
Most users have a habit of relying on the Back button when they land on a page they don’t want. A form page should not change that. The Back button is what users are comfortable and familiar with. Because of that, maintaining that consistency on every page is important. Form pages should look and function like any other page. There’s no room for Cancel buttons on forms, but they do have a rightful place in other user interface situations. There are two situations where Cancel buttons are proper.
The first situation is confirmation windows. Confirmation windows tell users that a process is about to begin. The user is given the choice to go ahead with or cancel the process. A Cancel button here is useful and effective because without one the user has no choice but to go ahead with the process.
The second situation is progress bars. Progress bars display when a process is in progress. While in progress, the user can still cancel the process before it finishes. A Cancel button here is useful and effective because without one the user has no other way out of the process.
The Cancel button gives users freedom when used appropriately. When they’re not used appropriately, they can give users a sense of confinement. Cancel buttons have no place on forms. For the sake of good design, it’s time to say goodbye to them once and for all.