Thursday, July 16, 2009

Push the button, Frank!

One thing that some interface designers sometimes overlook is button text. In a lot of contexts, buttons are given default values that seem "good enough". But consider your button text carefully. I'll give you the negative example that spawned this very thought process.

I'm installing a program with the standard Windows installer dialogs. There is some setup to do, and when it is finished, I'm presented with a screen that informs that everything is kosher and the install can commence. The default button that will kick everything off reads "Finish". Erroneous! I'm finishing nothing! Adding to surreal nature of the dialog is the descriptive sentence above the button: "Click Finish to begin installation."

"Click finish to begin" is going to be my new "get up to get down".

Verbs are good words for buttons. Buttons do things, and the word should describe what's going to happen. "Submit" is a popular, though vague, button word. "Cancel" is another popular one. In my example, the answer was staring the programmer right in the face when he wrote the description: the word should have been "Install", since that's exactly what's going to happen when the user clicks the button.

Give some thought to your button labels and make their purpose clear. If whatever IDE you're using provides defaults ... well, try to make it not to. Forcing yourself to fill in that text won't be a bad thing.