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How do you give your user options without overloading them?


While Charles’s Answer shows some great UIs, I wanted to add the UX that Directory Opus uses for the same action, which I find very good as well. Simple on the surface with advanced options tucked away after a click.

Simple Copy View.

Clicking on the Dropdowns results in these options:

Replace Options
Skip Options

As you can see it also provides shortcuts for the advanced operations making it easy for power users as well.

When a user is about to take an action that may not be easily reversible, it is imperative that the interface give them enough information to:

  • Make the correct decision on what they want to do.
  • Make it very clear how to make that happen.

In Windows 7 the “Copy File” dialog gives you plenty of information to help you compare the two files using meta data and clear steps for how to make it happen:

enter image description here

Because this is an FTP program there are more options than whether to overwrite or not.

It would be better if the interface made it easier for the user to know what the effect of their decision would have.

FileZilla does a much better job of asking the user for the same information as the question’s example:

enter image description here

The dialog might benefit if it grouped related actions so that it is more clear to the user what their options are broadly and then specifically what their refinement options are based on their need:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

I’m the author of WinSCP and I’ve found this “question” really inspiring. Thanks. This is my (kind of) “answer”.

Improvements I’ve done (see also the screenshot below):

  • Inspired by the @Vijay’s answer (and Directory Opus), I have merged similar buttons into one with a drop down menu. So now there are only 4 buttons, Yes (with Newer Only and Yes to All in menu), No (with Append, New Name and No to All in menu), Cancel and Help. Also I’ve introduced key+click shortcuts for the advanced options.
  • The Help button now really opens a relevant help page:
  • Reworded the prompt text to have a real question on the very first line, so it is obvious, what the Yes / No do.
  • EDIT: We have made further improvements, particularly highlighted the main sentence (question) of the prompt and made the buttons width variable. See updated screenshot.

New WinSCP file overwrite prompt

There are some suggestions that I’ve decided not to adopt:

  • Renaming Yes / No buttons: I believe that after rewording the prompt and hiding the advanced options, it’s now obvious, what the buttons do. Moreover renaming them would be inconsistent with other WinSCP prompts and in general with other Windows application, that stick with standard button labels. Also many users are used to the existing Y/N keyboard accelerators.
  • Removing Cancel or moving it to advanced options: I believe there should be Cancel button on all prompts. I’m aware that there’s already the X button on window caption, but it is not really clear what that does. Explicit Cancel is more straightforward. Also Cancel is not a special version of Yes nor No. It cancels whole batch transfer, not only the file in question.
  • Making important buttons larger: While I see that this is common practice in web design, desktop applications should stick with their platform standards. On Windows, the buttons have a single size.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

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