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Wednesday, May. 2, 2007 at 7:02 am

Fade-to-Gray to Improve Experience

By Bryan Eisenberg
May 2nd, 2007

You’ve just submitted a form. The process is going to be longer than… instantaneous.

Ever find yourself clicking more that once? The lazy programmer’s/designer’s way of dealing with that is to tell you not to click more than once. How well do you follow instructions?

Do not submit twice warning

They could have done a quick search to gray out the submit button. Once they’re done with this, you can talk to them about using the word ‘submit’ on the button. ;)
gray out save changes

Isn’t this better? Have any other examples you could share?

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Comments (6)

  1. Yes, this definitely improves usability. But I was just thinking, why don’t the browsers do this automatically? If there is no javascript interfering, the browser could grey out the button. I cannot think of any case where this would be a bad idea, although I am sure that those cases exist :)

  2. The idea is simple, and a very good one. One challenge here is that there are still SO MANY sites that use images for their buttons. This greyed out technique will not work on an image. You could do something with the OnClick event that would swap images but… even something that seems so trivially easy like that usually touches pages that development only wants to touch on new releases. Also… switching the button functionality like this on an entire site… is not a quick task. I would argue worth doing but… this could EASILY get put in the “nice to have” category by a lot of IT teams.

  3. That is the most hilarious point of assurance message I have ever read! Sadly, the first shopping cart software I ever used was guilty of the same faux pas.

    While playing with money is like playing with people’s emotions – there is one common usability blunder that continuously annoys me.
    If there is one thing I hate in this world, it would be DVD menu systems. Sometimes they can be so intrusive, and so animation-intensive, that they have literally caused me to hate certain movies. Compared to how websites have changed over the years, DVD menu systems are almost exactly the same. The solution to this problem? Video on Demand (though Viacom is calling the shots here).

  4. As far as I’m aware, Bill, it may change the image once they’ve clicked on the button, but it won’t actually disable the image from being clicked. So, people are still able to click on it again, even though less hopefully will, as it appears greyed out.

    I may be wrong, though.

  5. Another good way how to prevent people from clicking any button while processing data is to show them that something is happening right now (and therefore they should wait and do nothing). This can be neatly done by animated progress bar with JavaScript loader.

    I would prefer this solution to yours, because it doesn’t demage the standard behaviour of Web page elements.

  6. It is amazing to find so many warnings and notices on forms – most of the time they make me feel anxious about accidentally double clicking (“is it going to blow up?”).

    Something I’ve started to talk with people about is if a form will take more than just a second to process, send them to a ‘middle page’ much like what Travelocity.com does when you search for a flight. Yes, you can use java and other code techniques to grey out a button, but what happens if the person has disabled java… where does that leave your visitor? Sending them to a middle page allows a business to settle visitors’ nerves down and may provide an opportunity to deepen their relationship with the visitor and provide them with more info about the business or some other piece of relevant information.

    I will say, I have not yet tested the effectiveness of any of the above… but I plan too.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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