we are redesigning a web-based application that handles a lot of lists, where every line represents a single item. Like a list of emails or a list of books. Every item offers 3 functionalities: delete, edit, clone. Each functionality is represented by a commonly used icon or a button, aligned to the right of the line.

Which would be the best order to use for these operations?

I have tried to research this, but I mainly found recommendations regarding icons themselves (which icons to use, how to color them, etc) or the age old discussion about which order of buttons OK/Cancel or Cancel/OK is best for dialogues. Both are not helping.

I tried to look at different other applications, like googlemail, but there does not seem to be any clear intention behind the order.

I tried looking into recommendations for the order of context menus, most commonly it is recommended to start with the most frequently used. In a context menu I would think (we don't currently have real user data): Edit, Clone, Delete.

But for a horizontal representation one might argue, that with the alignment to the right, the icons from left to right should be: Delete, Clone, Edit. This would bring the added bonus of making Edit easier to reach on mobile devices.

What do you think? Can anyone recommend reading material specifically for this kind of problem?


1 Answer 1


I would consider collecting usage statistics for these. I'd want to order them based on which ones are most used so that you get to the one you are most likely to need first as you visually parse them.

I think Edit, Clone, Delete would be the best order in most cases as you are most likely to want to manipulate the current item before cloning it and you will edit the item multiple times but will only delete once.

  • Thank you! We will try to get the real usage data, but it is all a bit difficult with that client right now. Just to be clear: Even with alignment to the right you would place Edit on the left of the group?
    – Felicitas
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 15:36
  • I would personally though I don't have any reference to back that up. I tend to prefer ordering based on logical reading order rather than optimizing tap targets for mobile devices as it reduces the cognitive load required to parse the items. I find the thumb usually rests about 3/4 of the way across the screen anyway so it's usually best to get the most used actions closer to that point.You might also consider that deleting is the quickest task so having it to the right may allow for quicker deleting of multiple items. As always, its best to test with your users and see what they prefer. Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 15:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.