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13:14 Prioritize Pushbuttons

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 3 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 3 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Controls and Widgets


Use location and highlighting to prioritize pushbuttons.


Place the most frequently used pushbutton in first position and set it to default, so that the ‘Enter’ key activates the pushbutton. Place the button most likely to be clicked on the left side of a two-button set of pushbuttons. Generally, users look to the left and then the right button before making a selection.


  • Bailey, R.W. (1996). Human performance engineering: Designing high quality professional user interfaces for computer products, applications and systems (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Fowler, S. (1998). GUI Design Handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Marcus, A., Smilonich, N., & Thompson, L. (1995). The Cross-GUI Handbook. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
  • Walker, B.N. & Stanley, R.M. (2004). Eye movement and reaction time are both important in assessment of dialog box usability. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting.

Poor Example:

The ‘Edit,’ ‘Cancel’ and Submit buttons are spread too far apart. The ‘Submit’ button should be more visually prominent.

The ‘Clear Form and ‘Restart’ button is positioned before the ‘Submit Form” button. All buttons look visually similar. Users may accidentally press the ‘Clear Form and Restart’ button


Good Example:

Both options are together so the user can see the two choices easily.


The default button, Update, is visually more prominent than the Cancel option.


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