When ‘Cancel’ needs its own confirmation


It’s common practice to show a confirmation message once a customer completes a task. But what about when they abandon the task? Normally, no separate message is needed: if nothing changed, there’s little to report. But I think there’s one important exception: starting and then cancelling a high-stakes task.

What do I mean by high-stakes? Perhaps the user began the process for changing an existing airline ticket, selling a share of stock, or ordering an expensive product. If they decide to stop along the way, they’ll want to know where things stand afterwards. This helps the user feel confident and in control. But if pressing the Cancel button just takes them back to the beginning of the process or to another generic page, they’re left in limbo.

For these situations, a better approach is to say something like this: “Your transaction has been cancelled, and no changes were made. To view your existing travel itinerary, click here.” How do you tell if a particular process deserves its own confirmation when the user chooses to cancel? Easy: just think about how important the confirmation or receipt would be if they went through with it. If it’s the sort of thing that a typical customer would always print and save the receipt for, then there’s a good chance they’ll want a clear and direct confirmation message if they have to abandon the transaction, too.