Predominantly focused on web-based Desktop use.

When viewing a particular object in our system, let's say its a helpdesk ticket as an example. Our workflow system allows the enrolment of new operations in the database that can be run on the ticket.

Examples of these actions are:

  • Edit
  • Delete
  • Place on hold
  • Place in Progress
  • Cancel
  • Send Email ... and so on

There may be as many as 10+ options for a user at any given time.

We've tried displaying these as radio buttons (combined with a "Run" button), as well as select boxes.

I find both very unintuitive, but I don't have an alternative solution. Any ideas?

EDIT: Here is a screenshot snippet showing an example. Note, it is extremely difficult to find the task you want to run (especially if you are new to the platform).

enter image description here

  • This forum works best when you provide visual mocks of your UI context, and your efforts so far. Do you have some visuals that clarify what a user sees, the general layout and placement. What are some of the system constraints, and what is the current visual hierarchy.
    – Mike M
    Jan 25 at 1:03
  • 1
    Thanks @MikeM, makes perfect sense. I just uploaded a screenshot.
    – Sami.C
    Jan 25 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


Try making the list more legible by grouping into categories that users understand and make sense of.

The menu you have has a lot of choices (normal in many complex domains). One issue is trying to make sense of the ordering: it's not alphabetical, it changes based on the issue, but it also doesn't feel sorted by category (at least not to me: I don't work at a helpdesk).

Since the items are dynamic, you can test if categorization gives them a more stable placement in the mind of the user.

Talk to your users, and find out how they categorize these tasks.

Try using a card sort exercise, and find out if there are some common groupings the support agents perceive. Then, you can follow their mental models, and make the list more scannable by grouping:

enter image description here

Can stable categories help?

Once you have the categories, see if agents can get a better understanding by displaying the absence of actions. This way the see right away that no Edit or Cancel actions are possible.

enter image description here

Another option is to have a 'suggested' category, that surfaces the optimal actions (although that assumes the system has clear understanding about the best action path, which most systems don't).

Card sorting

From the Neilsen Norman Group: Card Sorting: Uncover Users' Mental Models for Better Information Architecture

Card sorting is a UX research technique in which users organize topics into groups. Use it to create an IA that suits your users' expectations

  • I really like this solution, thanks!
    – Sami.C
    Jan 25 at 5:47

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