February 28, 2010

Design for Consistency: Yes-No, Ok-Cancel

The other day I went to BP and added some gas. At the end, it asked if I wanted a receipt. "Yes", I thought, but then carelessly, I hit the "No" button - a mistake. This is not the first time I did it. BP's machine has the "Yes" button on the right and "No" button on the left, which is opposite to my assumption.

And another time, I went to the Bank of America website and it asked me to upgrade my login process. OK, I thought, filled in all information and hit "Continue" - wrong, I hit the "Cancel" button - the "Cancel" button was on the left and the "Continue" was on the right. Again, it is opposite to my assumption and I was careless.

These seem like small design issues but they definitely affect our lives. Mr. Nielsen had a nice discussion on that (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ok-cancel.html) and I really feel so. Such issues cannot be solved universally, as people all have different culture, tradition, and habits. But at least within one site or application, the consistency needs to be verified and enforced. Otherwise small issues like this are really annoying.

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