Confirm before Cancel, Back before Next.

Subject: Confirm before Cancel, Back before Next.
From: yehoshua paul <ysp10182 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: tech2wr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2013 12:26:31 +0300

Recently my company decided to change the order of the Confirm and Cancel,
and Back and Proceed buttons so that now throughout the entire system
Confirm is consistently on the left and Cancel is on the right, and Back is
consistently on the left, while Next is consistently on the right. This has
been the subject of vigorous debates in my company, and one of the members
of the product team created a 15 page manual documenting all the
inconsistencies in the system.
Everyone agreed that the button order had to be consistent, what no one
could agree on was what that order should be. Should Confirm precede Cancel
or should it follow it?
If Confirm precedes Cancel than clearly Next should precede Back because
once you click Confirm, you are in essence proceeding, or going to the next
step. Therefore if Confirm is on the left of the screen and Cancel is on
the right, Next should also be on the left and Back should be on the right?
Eventually a decision was reached. Confirm is not the same as Next, which
is why Confirm is now on the left, while Next remains on the right.
I for the most part have been laughing at everyone, and pointing out that
if this is our customer's biggest complaint, our situation is pretty good,
but still I have product managers grumbling to me that the customer's are
going to complain, and that mentioning this change prominently in the
release notes is insufficient. They think that either Cancel should precede
Confirm, or that Next should precede Back.
But now that the discussion is over, and a decision has been made, I would
like to appeal to the pedants of the group, and ask for a good explanation.
If Confirm means to proceed with the action then why is it on the left
instead of the right? It should be like Next which is preceded by Back. Or
vice-versa, Next should be like Confirm and come before back.

How would people explain the decision?

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