Issue #8807 open

Consider renaming "Cancel" links to "Discard" for clarity (BB-10638)

Nick Timkovich
created an issue

These sorts of incidents make me pine for the site to give me pause

  1. Begin writing or editing an issue or comment
  2. Click "Preview"
  3. Forget that you need to click the "Preview" (now "Edit") button, especially if the post is long, and instead hit "Cancel" at the bottom
  4. Lose all your work without a moment's pause.

If the user does want to "Cancel", they can simply navigate away without updating a wiki page or issue. Most modern browsers seem to keep form state if one goes back then immediately forwards again, but the JS that "Cancel" fires irrecoverably destroys the information, mildly amusing for a VCS hosting provider.

Looking at another site, StackOverflow, there are a couple major differences that I feel make for far superior UX:

  1. You are warned about potentially destructive actions (going to another post, closing the window, hitting back, etc), and also:
  2. There is no "cancel". Web forms are not modal, you do not need to "abort" entering data in order to go do another task instead. I'll let the Nielsen Norman group, a UX research firm explain it.
    • What you call "Cancel", Nielsen calls "Reset", a much more destructive thing:
  • The worst problem about Reset is that users click the button by mistake when they wanted to click Submit . Bang — all your work is gone!
  • Having two buttons at the bottom of a form clutters up the interface and makes it harder for users to clearly see their next step. Some small amount of wasted time is spent scanning the useless button and deciding which of the two buttons is the correct one.

Comments (11)

  1. Zach Davis staff

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for the feedback. I agree with your first point (navigating away and losing your content), but it's unlikely that we will remove Cancel links or ask for confirmation every time someone clicks cancel. The top answer on the UX.SE link you provide actually has a good counterargument to your point.

    Cheers, Zach

  2. Nick Timkovich reporter

    If you keep the cancel link, you need to make it harder to accidentally destroy all your work when thinking "I want to cancel preview mode". Your narrowing of the description (title edit) combined with desire to keep "Cancel" makes me think you don't deem that a problem. Calling it "Clear" would be more...clear, in addition to guarding against the user blowing away all their work.

    Microsoft Word had this problem a few versions back (2000?) where to quit from print preview the button was basically hidden in among everything else in the toolbar, so the user (me) would often close the window thinking that closed the preview, but instead it would close Word (but still give you a prompt if you had unsaved changes, mind you).

  3. Nick Timkovich reporter

    Zach Davis to explicitly address your contention, on the major edit pages on BB (issue editing and wiki), there is no other purpose to the page, so if the user wants to cancel they can simply navigate away. As an aside, content in forms seems to be preserved by most modern browsers, so even if the user accidentally navigates away the information is still recoverable (in contrast to "Cancel").

    For other things, e.g. these comments, "Cancel" can be turned from a highly final thing into something easily recoverable by having the button just hide the form elements rather than purging all their content. Alternatively, Trello and some other sites just turn an unsubmitted comment into the new placeholder text when the form loses focus on the page.

    Granted, Trello has it's own "Cancel", that "X", but in the Windows world that is strongly associated with closing a window or task, and I (perhaps wrongly) draw a distinction there. Maybe call it "Discard"?

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