The back button is an extremely important part of web navigation. Shoppers expect to be taken right back to where they were before engaging in whatever action necessitated the use of a back button when they press it. Implementing it might sound easy but things are rarely so simple. The problem comes when there is conflict between what you technically think is a new page and what a shopper considers to be a new page.
The actions below are seen by users as being a new page.
And thus clicking the Back button should take them back to their previous state:
- Opening an overlay & lightbox – Shoppers consider this to be a new page even if the URL hasn’t technically changed and as such pressing the back button should close the overlay instead of taking them to the previous page.
- Filtering & sorting – Pressing the back button should undo the most recent filter or sort option applied.
- Going to the next step in an accordion checkout or a multi-step process on a page – A multi-step shipping estimator on the product page is a good example. A customer pressing the back button should be taken back to the previous stage of the multistep process, not the previous URL.
- AJAX pagination – The back button should take a customer back to the previous page.
- Product page – A customer pressing the back button on the product page should be returned to the product list.
- Expanding or truncating content (especially if the expanded content takes most of the screen) – When a customer presses the back button after expanding truncated content, they should be taken back to the stage before expansion.
- Clicking an anchor link – Some pages like the PDP can be extremely detailed and have their content divided into sections requiring anchor links for easier navigation. A customer pressing the back button after clicking on an anchor link should be returned to their previous position on the PDP, not a previous URL.
- Product variants on the product page – A customer viewing a product variant should always be returned to the previous variant when they press the back button.