This matter has reared it’s muddled head in the last few places I have worked as a UX designer – the location of the “next” and “previous” buttons at the bottom of a form (this could also be a set of “cancel” / “okay” buttons in a modal). I have come across a few UX designers who insist they must be placed as far apart as possible, for safety’s sake. The rationale is you don’t want the user to accidentally press the wrong one. I agree there should be sufficient spacing, however I feel like placing them far apart goes against the Gestalt principles of proximity. Think of the accelerator and brake pedals of an automobile – pressing the wrong one could be disastrous – even fatal, however they are close together.
My theory is having the buttons far apart increases the cognitive load as the user needs to scan the page to find both. My problem is I have never had a way to prove this theory – I have never worked somewhere with the resources to A/B test something like this. Has anyone had experience in this matter or know of any usability tests / experiments? I’m happy to be proven wrong!
Refer to the image, and you will see what I mean!