Escape? Cancel? What…?

November 24, 2011

I was opening a PowerPoint presentation on my client’s network, using my not super fast VPN connection. I got this cryptic message:

So, I have to press the ESC cancel to stop the presentation from opening. Fair enough, though it could have been written in simpler language (e.g. Press the ESC key to stop opening the document.)

However, that Cancel button just confuses the message. You have two instances of ‘cancel’ in the one message box and it’s not clear as to what the Cancel button does. Does it just cancel the message (I suspect it does) and the document keeps on opening, or does it substitute for the ESC key?

Someone who’s not very familiar with creating a PowerPoint presentation or presenting one, may not be familiar with using ESC to get out of full screen mode once the presentation is open.  Thus they are likely to be really confused by this message.

A better option for the developers/UI text people may be to keep the message, and instead of a Cancel button, adding a ‘close’ icon at the top of the message box, or changing the text on the button to something like Close, though I still think that’s not clear either. Even better would be a wordier message like Close this message. Sure, it’s more text, but there would be no confusion as to what that button does.

One comment

  1. Came across a neat and annoying segue on this theme recently: a subscription website which of course offers an option to cancel your subscription. Choose that option to cancel and you get a warning that if you proceed, you be cancelling your subscription… with the choice of two buttons: (wait for it): Continue or Cancel.
    Guess which does what?

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