Redundant controls


Although user skills can vary widely, virtually everybody that browses the web will be familiar with the Back button, scroll bar, and other basic controls. So, why do so many sites still insist on presenting alternate sets of controls that do the same thing? Providing another way to accomplish a task that the user already has a solution for will lead to wasted screen real estate at best, and confusion at worst.

In particular, I’m talking about the “Back to top” buttons that I’ve been seeing on a lot of websites lately. Do these really serve a purpose? Doesn’t the scroll bar do the same thing? I consider myself a fairly savvy web user, and I almost never click on “Back to top”. Sure, you might argue that the button is there for people who don’t understand the scroll bar. But if that were the case, they’d never reach the bottom of the page anyway.

So, when you’re thinking about adding this type of feature to your website, consider whether you really want to duplicate something that the web browser already does. Sometimes, these features can be useful, like the large “Close” button that appears in a product detail pop-up. But in most cases, there’s no need to provide redundant ways of doing the same thing. By leaving out these extra controls, you’ll reduce confusion and preserve more space for the actual content that your site is focused on.