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My partner and I are adding a new feature to our website, specifically one that allows a system administrator to email users of the system directly from an existing 'admin' screen. We are debating the most appropriate place to put the control, and wanted to reach out for opinion.

Here is a very rough mock-up of the current screen, with our two placement choices labelled A and B in green (note that by default all items in the checklist are selected and would have to be manually de-selected: search mockup One of us would like to place the button in position A, as it is above the fold for large result sets, more prominent, and saves the user having to scroll down to email the selected users. The other would like it in position B, as it matches other user interface buttons, and flows more naturally in that users Search -> Select -> Act and the top-to-bottom positioning follows this pattern. Users shouldn't have to search, scroll down, potentially select users, then have to scroll back up to trigger the email. The counter to this is that it is just as likely that a user searches and is happy with the 'select all' and hits the email button without de-selecting a user.

Is one of these options more correct in terms of UX and standards?

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How frequently do you use search? Is it primary intended to find separate user or group of users? How many (possibly) users are in your system? –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 17 '13 at 5:00
    
@AlexeyKolchenko the search is an admin function that is used primarily to manage the users of the system, so it is not used frequently. There could be anywhere from 1000 to 100000 users for a given client. –  Paul Mennega Jul 17 '13 at 12:39
    
So mailing itself rather frequent, searching for user is not and Dropdown filter inputs used for selecting some category of users? –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 17 '13 at 12:51
    
The admin tool is used to search for and manage users of the system. There are other functions not shown in the mockup, but sys admins use to to find groups of users to email, update, etc, or to find a specific user to delete. The dropdowns allow the admins to quickly show users that belong to a particular group. –  Paul Mennega Jul 17 '13 at 13:22

4 Answers 4

It's hard to say which one of you is right, because it depends a lot on what the user expects at this moment in the workflow.

You should therefor test it with a few user.

In terms of "general UX", you are definitely dealing with the visual workflow here. I.e. the path the eyes will wander trough the GUI.

In many situations you can actually design this workflow by adjusting the visual elements (ref. "visual balance" and "gestalt principles") - but in this case you can not. Sending an e-mail to a bunch of users is not something the user does without thinking twice. Especially if there's an e-mail that shouldn't be sent to everyone.

You will look up and down the screen twice to make sure everything is correct before sending.

Thus: Create an unambiguous and simple dialog. Remove things you don't need. Know what the users have on their mind when they reach this screen, and figure out if "all users" or "just a few" is the most common situation.

In your mockup - even if you remove one of the options - it is a dialog designed to cover both cases. That's not a good idea in my opinion...

My suggestion would be to remove the list entirely if the mail should be sent to all users. (Mockup on the left, below).

If the user needs to select the recipients from a list, then he will look trough the list all the way to the bottom, and it will be OK to have the bottom of the screen. (Mocup on the right, below).

(But it can be better to keep it at the same place as the "send to all" mode. In e-mail situations, the users are used to browse back to the top to send the e-mail when everything is ready. Most (all?) desktop clients have the the send button in the header, and GMail has received some criticism for "new" the placement under the message field in the compose window...)


mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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I think of something like this. It is aligned to general flow: 1) Selection, 2) Operation. Manage users

Top bar is quick (group) selection and fine tuning tool. Both controls are selection tools so they are grouped in a single bar. As searching is used not frequently, it is placed after the group selection control.

Middle bar displays user list and allow selection operations.

Actions over selected elements is at the bottom bar.

Suddenly I came up to the more simple view:
enter image description here

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Some of these answers have fantastic ideas about multi-selecting that would certainly apply to your situation. For the core question of "which is better - a 'send' button at the top or bottom?" I say "both".

I think there is nothing wrong with having a send/submit button in two places at once - one at the top, and one at the bottom. Upper right and lower right is best. I use this regularly for long web forms.

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In general, position B is better then position A, because of its clear logic as you mentioned - 'Search -> Select -> Act'. Unless email feature has special meaning or function in this particular case.

But I think than it shouldn't be grouped with Delete button because of the following reasons:

  • Delete function changes list of users as well as Add or Edit functions. Email function acts with this list without changing it, so its more 'safe' function and could be separated from ones mentioned above.
  • Email function will result in further activities - filling email form or selecting form file, etc. This also could be indicated in some way distinguishing from other functional buttons using another control, e.g. link.
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