“The Button Problem”

3 min readMay 3, 2024

Inspired by “The Door Problem”.

Finger pressing red button
Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash

The Button Problem

Premise: You are building a website.

  • Are there buttons on your site or app?
  • Can the user click/focus/hover on the button?
  • Are you using native buttons or custom buttons?
  • Does the button render the same on every device?
  • Is the button responsive? Does the button adapt to different screen sizes?
  • Does the button get larger or smaller?
  • If the button changes size or shape, does it cause a layout shift?
  • Are there button links? (Buttons that take the user to another page.)
  • Are there link buttons? (Links that are styled like buttons.)
  • Is the button accessible? Can the button be interacted with a keyboard/screenreader?
  • Can the button be disabled? Can the button be reenabled?
  • What does clicking the button do? Does it open a modal, change the page, or send an API request?
  • If triggering the button performs an asynchronous operation, does it show a loading state?
  • If the button manages state, does it optimistically update? What if the update fails?
  • What if the user presses on the button multiple times really quickly? Will the same operation be called multiple times?
  • Can the button be hidden?
  • Can everyone see the button?

It’s a pretty classic frontend problem. SOMEONE has to solve “The Button Problem”, and that someone is the UI team.

The Other Button Problems

To help people understand the role breakdowns at a tech company, let’s go into how other people deal with buttons.

  • Design Director: “Let’s add themeable buttons to the design system and style guide.”
  • Designer: “Here’s a Figma file that showcases how buttons works.”
  • Product Manager: “I added buttons to the Sprint backlog.”
  • Scrum Master: “We estimate buttons will take 13 story points for a single developer.”
  • Tech Lead: “I wrote a technical design on buttons.”
  • Architect: “Here’s a UML diagram on scalable button architecture.”
  • Senior Developer: “I built the button on top of 30 dependencies.”
  • Junior Developer: “I need to pair with a Senior Developer to understand buttons.”
  • Engineering Manager: “We will resource 10 developers so buttons can be done in 4 weeks.”
  • QA Tester: “I clicked the button, double-clicked the button, right-clicked the button, and loaded the button on iPhone, Android, Chromebook, and Internet Explorer.”
  • DevOps: “CI has been set up so we can continuously release buttons”
  • Hiring Recruiter: “We need to source 100 candidates who have at least 15 years working with buttons.”
  • A/B Tester: “We set up experiments so that buttons are rendered in multiple sizes and colors to test user engagement.”
  • Data Analytics: “When a button is clicked, it sends a track event to our analytics service.”
  • Sales: “Can we add microtransactions on top of buttons?”
  • UX / Usability Researcher: “I found some people to do user testing with buttons to understand what issues could come up.”
  • Localization: “We translated buttons to every language.”
  • Legal: “Buttons must be accessible or else we will get sued.”
  • Customer Support: “A customer opened a ticket about buttons. I sent them our documentation on how to use them.”
  • Marketing: “We promoted buttons via social media.”
  • Finance: “How much do buttons cost to make?”
  • Technology: “We need to scale our Agile processes so we can build more buttons efficiently.”
  • CEO: “Buttons will be the core differentiator of our business.”
  • Investor: “I’m willing to invest $10 million for 1% equity in your button company.”
  • User: “I wasn’t aware there was a button on the screen.”