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Poll Results: Action Verb Clarity

Published by Chris Coyier

The latest poll was all about picking the best sentence for a user to perform a specific action on a website. The choices are listed below, sorted from most popular to least:

  • 39% - Select a user and then click the Update button.
  • 37% - Select a user and then click Update.
  • 8% - Select a user and Update.
  • 7% - Select a user and then press the Update button.
  • 5% - Select a user and then press Update.
  • 3% - Select a user and then choose Update.
  • 1% - Select a user and then choose the Update button.

Clearly, the action verb of "click" is the most popular. I don't think that's much of a surprise as that verb has been around and working for us for a long time. In the opening article, I suggested that "click" might be misleading since links and buttons can be used without having to use a mouse. Several people chimed in that, while that is true, those people still know what "click" means and can apply it to themselves. "Choose" was an device-agnostic alternative, but the least popular in this poll. "Press" only slightly more popular alternative. Surprisingly, the third most popular was to use the action verb from the button itself (since "Update" is already a verb).

New poll soon.


  1. Permalink to comment#

    With the internet now being available on more than one device (a home computer), I can see where you were going with this poll.

    But should we move away from the idea of the ‘click’ when talking about user interaction? You don’t click an iPhone button, you press it. But then again, ‘press’ is tied to a touch-enabled device.

    This was part of the reason I chose ‘Select a user and then choose Update’. But even then, ‘choose’ is almost too ambiguous. I could choose the button in my mind, but not actually commit to taking the actual action of clicking/pressing/hitting-space-bar.

    Or maybe I overthink things. ;)

  2. Permalink to comment#

    In response to Jason’s concern about iPhone and other new media devices, the option “Select a user and then hit the Update button.” might be a good one.

    • Dave
      Permalink to comment#

      With all those broken iPhone screens you see around I’m not sure “hit” is the best verb either!

  3. Permalink to comment#

    Shouldn’t it be “Select an user” since user starts with a vowel?

    • Permalink to comment#

      Say “user” out loud. Does it sound like “youzer”? Because it has that consonant Y sound, it takes a, not an.

    • Eddy
      Permalink to comment#

      A user
      A year
      A eulogy
      An hour

  4. %39 & %37 ..! Wow!

  5. Permalink to comment#

    by the way…
    do you use a WP Plugin for Votings like this?

  6. Steve Buchok
    Permalink to comment#

    Just a thought, but I believe this poll was done with people who are computer literate and therefore doesn’t really reflect the normal end user. Perhaps this poll would be better served on a site not dedicated to computer related topic.

    What do you think?

    • Maybe. But this is what we got. In this instance, we’re asking about a sentence written by computer users about a computer related topic, so I don’t think the audience of this site is too far off.

    • Sahan
      Permalink to comment#


  7. Permalink to comment#

    Thanks for the poll, we have just updated a few sites and added ‘Click to Visit’ and ‘Click to View’ and have seen an increase in traffic to the pages, as they were only images without wording, so this seems to hold true. LT

  8. Permalink to comment#

    Would it be a good idea to use “Select a user and Update,” and make the word “Update” the actual button/link/whatever?

  9. I choose (and use) “Select a user and then press Update.”
    Not because I think you don’t click a button, but also to make it more useable for touch devices (like phones).
    When “Update” was a link, then I would call it click…

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