User Interface Annoyances: Blind Confirmations

As a software programmer, I feel the need to make the user happy so that they will like my product. We all just want to be loved, right? In order to make the user of my software happy, the user interface must not be annoying and the whole user experience must be positive. I personally have lots of opinions about what should and should not be done in a user interface, and I’m sure the whole world will not be totally in agreement with all of my opinions, and that’s fine. We can agree to disagree.

But one thing that I think is a bad idea is to pop up a dialog to the user that asks them if they are sure, without giving them any more information.


On an Internet Forum that I’m a member of we use the very popular forum software phpBB. And this evening I kept seeing this same “blind” confirmation dialog over and over again as I was making various unrelated configuration changes to my account profile. If something is worthy of an “are you sure you want to do this” type of dialog, then surely telling the user what they are about to do and why it could be bad is also worthy of mentioning? When I try to close Word without saving my document, it doesn’t just say “Are you sure?”. It says something more along the lines of “Don’t you want to save your document before closing Word?”.

Just my opinion,

Kurt (with a tip of my hat to Joel Spolsky)

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