Back buttons in iPhone apps

Recently we have been working on wireframes for a new version Moody Radio’s mobile app. One of the questions that came up is how to handle the back action. Here is an example from iOS 7’s settings


In this example they’ve chosen to include the title of the page that got you to where you are currently, but in some apps you’ll see the literal word “Back” though. This brought up a few usability questions.

  • When does it make sense to put the title, just an arrow, or the arrow plus “back”?
  • And what do you do if you sometimes have long titles?
  • What value is having the back arrow and text label “back”

We needed to do this consistently across the app, so here are the general guidelines I came up:

  1. If the previous page’s title is consistent (i.e., “settings”, “stations”, etc) use this format:
    < previous page title
  2. If the previous page’s title is not consistent (i.e. the title of a specific episode) use this format:
  3. Never use this format as the text label “back” doesn’t add information any helpful information:
    < Back


Example wireframe

Now I just need to test this with a few end users of the app, to make sure my assumptions are correct!

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