Your user interface is essentially a narrative. UI is almost one of those make-your-own adventure stories. The user makes choices and we walk them along a path. Sometimes there are choices along those paths that have possible negative consequences, or just may weigh a little heavier on the user. Making a purchase, deleting a piece of information, publishing a piece of information to the right people (and not to the wrong people), etc. Obviously, in the best cases, the user interface is self-explanatory, intuitive, and the user understands exactly the consequences of each choice they’re making. But in reality we know this not to be the case.
In many of these situations users can pause at these points in the experience. Their minds have a hint of doubt. Will I have a chance to cancel this purchase? Will I delete something I need without a way to get it back? Will I publish this to people who shouldn’t see it? These questions are reasonable, and often predictable. Even when we don’t foresee that users may be asking these questions we can depend on analytics and customer support data to let us know where these pain points come. Customer support knows where people are getting confused, where they have their doubts, where they pause.
Is pausing bad per se? There’s nothing wrong with pausing before making a decision with big consequences. The problem is that fear, uncertainty, and doubt are creeping into the user’s mind. And frankly, there’s no reason to have any of that associated with your experience if possible. The solution is simple — read the customer’s mind.
A simple line of text, accompanying the button that the user is being asked to press can do absolute wonders for the user’s psyche (and ultimately their perception of your product). It’s the line that essentially says “we know what you’re thinking and don’t worry, we’ve got you covered”. The text doesn’t have to give the whole story, just acknowledge that the user has a reasonable concern, we’re aware of it, and they don’t have to worry. Text like “Don’t worry, you can still cancel your purchase.” or “Don’t worry, you can undo this later.” or “Click to see who will see this information once you share it (and who won’t).” are your best friend. And your users will feel understood.
And isn’t feeling like someone is listening, cares, and understands what all of us really want?