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We currently have an application that handles 2 types of input from the user for any given item. These 2 types of inputs are shown in drop downs. One of the drop downs holds both decisions (this completed the item in one of 2 ways) while the other drop down holds both pending decisions (this simply keeps the item on hold in one of 2 ways).

What we would like to do is simply present the users with one set of actions they can perform on each item. Then we could rely on services (or the like) to determine what actions should be done on the system based on what action the user selected.

What pros and cons are there to removing this distinction and simply having one set of actions available to the end user?


The decisions drop down contains the following values. Selecting one of these values completes the item.

  • All Clear
  • Not Clear (Requires Consultation)

The pending decisions drop down contains the following values. Selecting one of these values simply puts the item in a pending state for someone else to work.

  • Requires Drawing
  • Left Message

Our current domain model makes the distinction between these 2 things.

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migrated from Jan 11 '12 at 18:46

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

Can you give an example of what your choices are? I don't think I can parse what options you have to choose from. – Raku Jan 11 '12 at 16:59
The OP isn't even registered on UX. Should we close it? – dnbrv Jan 11 '12 at 19:59
This really needs clarification, if you could give a screen shot or wireframe that would be great. I don't follow what you're trying to do or what the problem is. – Ben Brocka Jan 11 '12 at 20:23
@dnbrv - Give the OP a chance to spot that their question has been migrated. If they don't create an account after a couple of days at the latest, then close the question. – ChrisF Jan 11 '12 at 21:55
@ChrisF - Sorry. I was feeling a bit trigger-happy given the lack of clarity in the question. – dnbrv Jan 11 '12 at 22:04

"How important is it to provide a distinction in your model?"

The only differences in your model you should be bringing to your user's attention are those differences that make a difference … to them.

Design your UI based on your user's mental model of the task or activity, and do you best to hide the underlying real model if it is different in any way.

In your scenario you have to ask if the users approach the task in the mode of (a) deciding Complete/Pending (regardless of the finer details of what actual action is required), or (b) deciding on the next step of action (which implies the Complete/Pending state).

I suspect that, like most users, you should in this case have the one call to action with options of {Complete, Requires Consultation, Requires Drawing, Left Message}. Selecting one of those will imply the overall status of Complete/Pending.

Alternatively (if your user's workflow model is different) you might have a first question of "is this complete, or pending?", with a followup question of "and why?" appearing, with only the options as relevant to the user's answer to the first question.

(There's another odd thing about your initial description too ... it sounds like a user could select an option off the first drop-down, and then another option off the second drop-down, which is of course contradictory.)

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