Confirmations help customers steer clear of committing errors or actions they might regret. We use them sparingly, to avoid them becoming a redundant message to get past.
When to use
Confirmations are intentional friction points if an action is going to have significant or unintended consequences, such as:
An action the customer can’t easily undo
- Deleting an item like a tax document, invoice, or email campaign
- Disconnecting a third-party app
Loss of the customer’s data, time, or work
- Deleting an account
- Closing a page or item with unsaved changes
- Restoring an older version of data
Unexpected changes to an aspect of the customer’s experience
- Making a client inactive when they have an unpaid balance
- Deleting a tag that affects past transactions as well as future ones
- Making a change that affects other people on the customer’s team
When not to use
If someone can easily undo an action, there’s no need for them to confirm their choice.
For example, you don’t need this: “Are you sure you want to add this account? You can undo it if you change your mind.”
What to include
Confirmations usually have three parts: a title, body, and call to action (CTA).
- Be concise and get right to the point, so the customer can quickly confirm or reconsider, then get back to their task. Ideally, the title is clear in what we’re trying to confirm without forcing the user to read the rest. Learn more about writing small
- Frame the title as a question to get the customer’s attention and require a response/action.
- Start with a verb. Make it match what the customer selected before the confirmation message appears. For example, if they selected Delete, use Delete and not Remove.
- Be specific when possible. Instead of saying Delete invoice, say Delete invoice #4839. If you don’t have room in the title, you can add details to the body.
- If the action includes a person, say Delete Toby’s files or Delete Toby as a user instead of Delete Toby. Poor Toby.
- Avoid phrases like “Are you sure…?” “Do you want to…?” and “Warning.” These can be confusing and imply that we don’t trust customers to make the right decision.
- Clear your tax return?
- Delete invoice #2466?
- Save changes?
- Make vendor inactive?
- Disconnect the DocuSign app?
- Do you really want to clear your tax return?
- Delete this invoice?
- You’re going to save changes.
- Are you sure you want to make this vendor inactive?
- Do you want to disconnect the DocuSign app?
Body copy gives further valuable information, including the consequences of the action. Consider what’ll happen because of the confirmation message:
- Can it be undone?
- Will changes be lost?
- Will it affect other things the customer might not be aware of?
- This can’t be undone.
- Clearing your return erases all of your information and lets you start over.
- If you skip, your crypto taxes may not be accurate. We recommend reviewing before moving on.
- These transactions will be permanently deleted from your books.
- You’ll need to create the form from scratch if you delete this template.
- We’ll remove these tags from any rules and transactions.
- This item will disappear from your planner. Your books won’t be affected.
Make sure your body copy doesn’t just repeat the title info. If that’s the case, skip the body content and just use a title and CTA.
It’s OK to use passive voice in body content for confirmation messages, even though active voice is one of our core style principles. Passive voice (“This file will be deleted”) can help bring attention to the thing being acted upon. It may also reduce anxiety for customers because it’s less scary than “you will delete this forever.” Learn more about active voice
Call to action (CTA)
- The call to action is usually a button or link.
- The customer can confirm they want to go forward or change their mind and go back. Always include these two options.
- The CTA should correspond to the question in the title.
- The primary CTA is on the right. The secondary CTA is on the left.
Delete this goal?
[Keep goal] [Delete goal]
[Don’t save] [Save]
[Cancel] [Restore backup]
[Cancel] [Change template]
Avoid simple Yes and No labels because they’re confusing. These often make customers have to re-read the title, which adds to the cognitive burden of decision-making in the moment. Similar to the header, ask yourself if someone can get the gist of the confirmation just by reading the CTA.
Also watch out for double negatives. Steer clear of labels that could have similar meanings. For example, pairing Cancel with Delete, Undo, or Remove creates confusion. Which CTA confirms the intended action? Learn more about calls to action
Putting it all together
“NewComputerSetupMac.pdf” will be permanently deleted.
[Keep file] [Delete file]
Delete this tag?
“Marketing” tag will be removed from rules and transactions.
Clear your tax return?
Clearing your return erases all of your information and lets you start over.
[Don’t clear] [Clear tax return]
Make customer inactive?
Marisa Hernandez will be hidden from your lists and menus. Their transactions will remain in reports.
[Keep active] [Make inactive]