Don’t break the back button

Duncan Stephen
Thursday 17 April 2014

4 design patterns that violate back-button expectations

One of the biggest usability faux-pas we can commit is “breaking” the back button. The back button is by far the most commonly used function of a web browser, and users have certain strong expectations about how it should work. If we violate the user’s expectations, it can lead to frustration, or even worse, complete abandonment.

It was particularly interesting to read the section about accordion checkouts. Although accordions are technically sections of the same webpage, users may often think of them as separate webpages, particularly on mobile devices where there is less space to provide the normal visual cues.

We use accordions very heavily on the Study at St Andrews website, and it may be worth considering if we are currently over-using them, or if we have the balance about right.

“Arhh no. Do I have to start over? Now I’m getting angry. Doesn’t it have my shit already [referring to his already typed address and card info]. Now I’m leaving. This isn’t a serious store.” During mobile checkout at Foot Locker, a subject clicked the back button after having progressed and filled out all the required information in the payment step. Alas, he was sent all the way back to the cart and all his typed data was lost. The quote speaks for itself.

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