GUI style guidelines proposal

Ivan Nedrehagen ivannedr at
Tue Jun 2 09:17:42 CEST 2009

There might be many pros and cons to this question, but one of the points
that should be given most importance in my opinion is the user.

A user interface is about safty. The user should be feeling safe when using
a piece of software. If not only the daring users are left, that leaves us
developers and other powerful users. The user is expecting the phone to
behave in certain ways. If two button switch place not adhering to the
"laws" of mobilephones, it is not a big deal. But the user is alerted,
paying more attention to his actions, and the user experience is harmed.

If switching the usual setup of two such established keys, it would have
to be in a way that event a novice would be able to understanding it
immediatly, and how that could be done, is beyond me.

If you ask me, the way to pioneering in user interfaces, is not about
giving people new ways of doing things, but more of giving people new
ways of understanding things.

-just my 2 cents

På Thu, 28 May 2009 17:47:14 +0200, skrev Steve Mosher  
<steve at>:

>  Sure,
>   And we put "ok" on the left because we dont want an inadvertant
> consent to a query.
>   You put up an "ok" dialog because you want to check that the user is
> sure. and
>   you put "ok" on the left so they don't naturally just 'click" on the
> right which means
>   consent.
>  Oh.. and my dialogs to send in thunderbird have cancel on the left and
> send on the right.
> And if I try to close a mail that hasnt been sent I get "dont save" on
> the far left and Save on
> the far right.. It has to do with the expected user behavior. Highest
> probablity  goes to the right.
> safest action goes to the right. The left is danger. Sinister. hehe. The
> politics of UI.
>  hehe. i love these debates. How's life raster?
> Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) wrote:
>> On Sat, 23 May 2009 10:35:56 -0700 Steve Mosher <steve at>  
>> said:
>> ever since i can remember, ok on dialogs was left, cancel on the right.  
>> the
>> order "ok/apply/cancel" is old as the hills (and going left to right,  
>> where
>> a missing elements just don't appear).
>> phones have simply followed this convention. (and as already pointed  
>> out,
>> backspace is on the right and it "cancels" your previous typing  
>> effort... so it
>> is consistent with that). note that macos here is the exception - it  
>> has ok on
>> the right. but windows, amiga, atari-st, ...
>>> hehe.
>>>   I cannot count the number of times I have hung up on "incoming"
>>> because the cancel button is on the right.
>>>  From one perspective "go" or initiate buttons should be on the right
>>> where the "return" or "enter button" is. But cell phones have it
>>> backwards. who knows where these conventions start.. but if I use a
>>> key pad to type in a number, then my expectation ( my fingers brain)
>>> is that initiating the sequence just entered should be a button on the
>>> you point out its a left to right thing..
>>> so we issue commands from the right and "escape" is always on the left.
>>> I'll say nothing about the etemology of "sinister" in deference to the
>>> left handed folks here.
>>> Werner Almesberger wrote:
>>>> Joerg Reisenweber wrote:
>>>>> It seems at least a de facto standard for cellphones is:
>>>>> "green button" (aka OK) LEFT side
>>>>> "red button" (aka cancel) RIGHT side
>>>> Just out of curiosity, does anyone know where this convention comes
>>>> from ? It always struck me as extremely counter-intuitive, at least
>>>> as someone who writes from left to right, to have the button that
>>>> basically says "go back" on the right side and the one that says
>>>> "move on" on the left.
>>>> - Werner
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