Cancel buttons on Web Forms
Yesterday I found myself agreeing with Jakob Neilsen (fairly rare for me) in a discussion with some colleagues.
The other side of argument is that some layman users will get stuck in the middle of this "transaction". ie they don't know very well the structure of your site and need some kind of guidance to get back on "track".
I am not sure which article from Nielsen you are referring to (URL?) so I might have misunderstood, but based on what you say, it seems to be a very bad idea for two reasons:
I believe the URL you're looking for is: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000416.html
I agree with the previous writers. Adding a Cancel button on a web form is an attempt to make it look and behave like a windows client. Don't think "windows client" when you design a web page!!
Jan Petter Hagberg
The cancel button is a basic and clear way of opting out. The word 'cancel' by definition is exactly what the user wants to do. From the average user's and vast majorities point of view, hitting the back button or navigating away from the page does not 'cancel' what I'm doing. It's simply a physiological stepping stone, the user being re-assured that what they did has been 'cancelled'. Us developers know that you can 'cancel' the page many ways, but that’s because we have an in depth knowledge of the technology, must people don't understand the technology and really don't what to. So therefore most everything has to be spoon fed, or explicitly stated. It is a must, any argument on the topic is a wate of time. The only case you wouldn't user it is for a developers form/site.
Fog Creek Home