We have an application with many grids. The current design is that only the currently active row shows the edit and delete icon. Is this a good practice, or should every line have the edit/delete icon.


  • 1
    I think it depends on what you mean by an "active row" and how intuitive it is to activate a row. – Flimm Jul 29 '20 at 13:44

I would say, if it works for your users, then stick with it.

Option 1: icons everywhere

More clear that all rows can be changed. Introduces a lot of redundance and visual clutter.

Option 2: icons only on selected row

Not entirely clear that each row can be changed. Visually less redundant.


Some of our apps have a "hover the row to see the applicable icons" and other apps have a "all icons are visible because the user typically needs to know all of the info they represent"

I'd say your choice is going to come down to striving for no-visual-clutter vs really needing to know what info the icon conveys beyond what action it carries out. Users will fairly quickly learn "this page is for editing and deleting things" so you probably don't really need to show all icons at all times if that is all their presence will convey. If the icons have a purpose beyond this, then this is where decision time comes

For example, suppose you have:

  • 20 users in a list and an Delete icon for them.
  • Some users are not deletable because they're assigned to active projects
  • Deleting users is a multiple-times-a day thing for someone who really needs to jump on deletable users quickly

Then having the icons show/be enabled is helpful to the overall mission of one-glance-assessing "which of these 20 users need to be deleted"

If that last requirement is more like "deleting users is a once a year thing", you can do away with the visual clutter and have the icons only appear when the row is hovered/tapped. If the user isn't deletable because they have active projects, the delete should be disabled and an explanation why available to the user

In essence, you have to first assess what the overall need of the icon is; does it form part of the decision making process the UI user goes through when they look at the page to find something to click on, or will they basically already be looking for a user and clicking on them when they know who they want to act on and what action to carry out


Maybe you can think about having an edit state for the whole grid?

If you click that icon the whole grid goes into edit mode and the user can edit the whole grid in one go. It depends if that is a common user behavior or not.

  • Thanks for the suggestion, but the edit triggers a pop-up dialog, not inline editing... – Joe Booth Jul 29 '20 at 13:31

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