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I have been playing with an idea of placing a bulk action drop down menu for a grid/table in the header of the column where the selections are done. This is to save some precious space above the table for some other tools, such as filters.

enter image description here

I have not seen this done anywhere, the typical solution would be something along the lines of gmail, placing the action menu above the table.

I think it is pretty straight forward - wondering if anyone can come up with downsides for this solution?

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How many action items and what type of action items will the table have? –  rk. May 24 '13 at 22:48
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Quite straight forward, and not an uncommon solution. There are two possible downsides here however, which I've heard users reaction in training sessions.

  1. Users can't find the control. They see it, but it's not entirely obvious that you should use this one for delete or move to another location.

  2. The drop down menu hides the selected items. When deleting records you want to be sure that you delete the right items. If you hide selected items, users feel insecure, and that's bad.

Recommendations are: make the control very prominent and don't hide items with the drop down.

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Cool, thank you! After reading all the comments, I think I will place the actions menu still above the table, and worry about using too much space later if needed (it is not an issue at the moment with our "lean" version of the product, however, I can see it possibly becoming one later) –  Skuirrel May 25 '13 at 16:49
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Users might confuse the triangular dropdown symbol with the more common "column sort order indicator" symbol and therefore don't recognize the dropdown as such.

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Good point! Possibly having the sort order indicators not visible could help this (in our product, they are only visible when you mouse over) .. however, I will probably move the control above the table, after reading these comments. –  Skuirrel May 25 '13 at 16:51
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Yes it is safe and pretty common solution to perform "Group Actions". But when you implement that, keep following aspects in mind.

  • A group actions button must be more visible than the standard buttons
  • It's label should be different from elements lying underneath

I had implemented something similar which looked like that

enter image description here

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Thank you Salman! –  Skuirrel May 25 '13 at 16:53
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