I have an Intranet application that displays a grid. Every row of the grid is editable.

Which option is more user intuitive:

  1. Having an "Edit" button at the end of each row.
  2. Have one "Edit" button at the end of the form which applies to the currently selected row (if no row is selected, button is disabled).

I understand some of the pros and cons, but can't decide on solution.


  • 1
    Just to make sure it's understood: I cannot offer inline editing. Pressing the "edit" button opens a lightbox with editing options relevant to the row selected.
    – Faruz
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 15:31

4 Answers 4


Hard to know without more questions... How frequently do these users use this feature? Is there a wide range (beginner/advanced), etc.

In this general pattern, I've used a menu icon (sort of down arrow in a rounded square) in a column (typically far right or far left), which opens a choice of row options.

Displaying only on hover may work depending on desktop prevalance and general frequency of use (and prevelance of feature).

Decision probably has more to do with analysis of what types of users, tasks, frequencies, precedents are at play. How much guidance is necessary, or is speed/power-user a bigger factor.

Not a complete answer for you but hopefully some useful thinking.


Is it possible to perform actions on multiple rows? If yes, it seems to me that placing the button at the end of the form would be a better choice.

If no, I'd stick with inline actions. Actions could be shown on hover or as a menu (like in Dropbox, for example - which, by the way, combine both the options you're considering). This way, actions wouldn't be displayed all the time, decreasing the risk of mistaken click.

Also, since your form can take a while to open, I'd work on giving some feedback - something that makes clear to users they "were heard" and that the system is working on their request.


Is there a way to just click the row you want to edit?

If edit is the only option, i would leave it on the row itself (maybe show button on rollover, and maybe make the whole row clickable).

If edit is not the only option, then "selecting" the row makes sense (because you can use "delete" "edit" etc.)

  • Nope. I actually have 3 buttons available for every row (Edit, Delete & Action), so its not intuitive which action is performed upon clicking. Besides, opening the edit form takes a couple of seconds and I cannot have the user wait this time for every mistaken click.
    – Faruz
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 15:36
  • if one is absolutely preferred (lets say Action) you can leave that one on the row and "extract" the other two at the top or at the bottom (with option to select rows). I guess you can't edit multiple rows so you can always make "edit" button inactive when you select multiple rows, and use multiple selection for deleting. Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 15:39
  • also if each action makes user wait for couple of seconds, than row clicking might need to have only "row select/deselect" purpose Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 15:42
  • 1
    Are any of those 3 functions the most common operation? If so, consider using a split-button (aka mutton). hanamidesign.com/blog/ux-pattern-mutton-menu-button
    – Erics
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 23:58

(I realize this post is old, but...)

There's no need to box yourself (and, more importantly, your users) into a corner.

Consider a multi-action button on each row and one below the grid. It is a button with a dropdown selection. The button below the grid applies to "Items selected" (there is a checkbox above that button on each row).

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.