I've got a web app where users can create two different kinds of similar things and I'm trying to decide whether to have two buttons, or one button and then present a choice as part of the resulting form. E.g.:

 [Create Primary Ownership] [Create Secondary Ownership]


[Create Ownership]   ->    (x) Primary    ( ) Secondary

I like the second one better even though it requires an extra click -- it's more scalable and less cluttered. The situation is more complex, though, because in one version of our product (for a particular set of users), the objects being created are labeled as above, but for a second set of users, the labels reflect the underlying structure better:

[Create Team]  [Grant Secondary Access]


[Create Team / Grant Access]    ->   (x) Team    ( ) Secondary Access

I hate the slash in "Create Team / Grant Access".

  • the first example appears to be two 'modes' of the same task. The second example appears to be two different tasks. As such, I'd keep them separate buttons.
    – DA01
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 17:37
  • @sprugman When you say "as part of the resulting form" is that implying that there is more the user will fill out after clicking the create ownership button? Will there be common fields for the both?
    – GotDibbs
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 19:21

2 Answers 2


Two buttons

Two different operations. "Cluttered" is subjective. Best to do a paper test with a few users of course, but based on the information given I would find the second option confusing, while choosing one of two buttons seems obvious.

As a developer, I'm suspicious of anything labeled 'primary' and 'secondary', because 'tertiary' et al is implied ;)

  • To combat clutter, I decided to combine those to functions with a couple others in a menu, but the solution is closer to two buttons than one.
    – sprugman
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 17:35
  • P.S. You're right to be suspicious. ;-) In this case it's object "creator" and "others" with access to the object, so I don't think we're too likely to slide down that slope.
    – sprugman
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 17:51

In General
Jakob Nielsen touts the benefits of progressive disclosure. I think this, in principal, is a question of whether or not this is 1) a primary or secondary feature, and 2) if power or simplicity is what's most needed on this page. If you want to grant more power, use separate buttons; if you want to keep it simpler, use a single button with a second step.

Use Ellipsis
If you choose to break this into two steps, be sure to add an ellipsis to the end of your button text:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

In the example you provide, it sounds like users are able to either start a group of people with access, or grant access to an existing group. It seems strange that you would go from an overview screen to grant access to a specific thing. Instead, I would follow the model you find on sites like Basecamp, or Google Docs: 1) from the index you can create a new thing, 2) from the specific thing you can edit access or other features.

In short: only have a Create Team… button, and on the Team page, have a Grant Access… button.

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