Why the 'OK' Button Is Always on the Right

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John Pavlus breaks down a mystery that it never occurred to me to ponder: in a dialog box, why is the OK button always on the right? It turns out that it's not an accident, but a function of how we perceive the world. The rule is always put the most important thing last.

Putting the most-often-used or most-likely-to-be-used option "last" makes less work for our monkey brains. Flow can also be used as a tool by designers who -- for better or worse -- want to encourage you to do one thing over another thing. (Like, say, sign up for their new social media thingamabob, or blindly accept 41-page-long Terms of Service updates on iTunes.) But for the most part, flow is used in the service of making our lives easier. Disagree? Cancel? OK!

Read the full story at Fast Company Design.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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