Critical actions, for example deleting content, require additional confirmation actions. That way the intent to delete is communicated to the system. Alerts are used for that purpose. The user taps the delete icon and confirms the intention by taping the delete button in the alert window.
The described solution works, otherwise, it wouldn’t be adopted on a large scale. But it can be improved. There are three issues with the alert window:
It requires the user to make two taps to complete one action.
The alert window appears in a different place on the screen. The user has to move the focus from the delete icon to the alert view. It takes time and effort.
The additional text (Are you sure you want to delete…?), increases the cognitive load on the user. It takes longer to complete the delete action.
In a project for a client (Challenger app), we looked for an alternative way to integrate the delete action. One that would address all the mentioned issues and also follow two requirements:
Deleting content is critical but not as often as other actions. The proposed solution shouldn’t require users to learn how to delete content.
The user needs to understand at all times what is going on during the delete process.
One of the first alternatives was to make the content disappear. The user holds the delete icon, and the content starts to fade away. Releasing the icon stops the delete process.
The proposed alternative didn’t work. The problem was that the process of deleting wasn’t communicated. Users noticed the disappearing content but were confused at first.
After a few iterations and testing, we found the right alternative. An additional status window appears showing the user the time until the content is deleted. Also visible is the notice on how to stop the delete process. By integrating a progress status bar, the user has a sense how long the delete process will take place.
A dark overlay over the content has been integrated. In case the user accidentally taps the delete icon, the overlay alerts the user right away on what’s happening.