We're developing a desktop application for accountants and lawyers. One of its feature is document management.

There are several actions users can do about documents, so we are doubtful about how many toolbars it's good to use.

On the Image 1 you can see two different toolbars; the first one is about actions dealing with the whole windows, while the second one is about actions user can do only on documents (listed in the grid).

On the Image 2 you can see a unique toolbar that merges all the buttons, dealing with the single documents or not.

enter image description here

Which solution is the best, according to the usability rules? We'd like to make a choice consistent with the other features, so if we choose the 2 toolbars solution we will apply it even for the invoice management, cheques management, and so on.

2 Answers 2


I think you have to use the first option. As you said, each toolbar is about actions in different context.

If you don't want to lost grid's height, you can make the second toolbar appears only when you click in one grid element.

Hope it helps, Iban

  • Did you mean the first option, with the 2 toolbars?
    – franz976
    Feb 17, 2011 at 7:47
  • The second option wouldn't use two toolbars, as he is asking whether it's best to use one or two. Feb 17, 2011 at 8:15
  • First option, sorry.
    – iBenzal
    Feb 17, 2011 at 9:24

Definitely option two, because if some functions belong together, they have to be listed next to each other!

Also you will spare som space this way. I think even the 'order' of buttons feels Ok.

For example here's an article on this tipoc: http://www.whatmakesthemclick.net/2010/03/04/100-things-you-should-know-about-people-28-things-that-are-close-together-seem-to-belong-together/

  • True, but it really depends by what "belong" means. A few commands are about the whole windows; a few others are dealing with the document grid. Is this reason strong enough to split the toolbar? The proximity principle is rispected anyway.
    – franz976
    Feb 17, 2011 at 11:43

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