In the table below, you can see the first column contains what I called the "action menu" and some examples of action could be: email, create task, send letter, create paycheck... The second column is the "Edit" column. Click on the icon will lead users to the employee's page in editing mode. Right now a large number of users think it's handy since you can go directly into editing mode from this page. However, it does adds some clutter and I'm considering to combine it with the action menu. Maybe the first option in the menu is "Edit". Any thoughts?

enter image description here

  • 1
    How is clicking edit different than clicking on the name link? Don't both take the user to a page with full details? Make that page editable, if it isn't already, and you can drop the Edit control to solve both the clutter problem and any user confusion on what they click when. Apr 4, 2013 at 1:03
  • Click the name will go to the page in view mode. There is an Edit button there. Click edit on this page will directly go into edit mode.
    – wcdomy
    Apr 4, 2013 at 15:53

5 Answers 5


I would suggest learning from the interaction method used that Gmail uses, both on Android and browser versions. Have a visual way to select a row, such as a checkbox, and then have an action bar or toolbar with the options appear.

This not only gives you more space, but saves on having to have many duplicate icons, and allows actions that can be performed on more than one row at a time.

enter image description here

  • This is cool. But the intention is not to take actions on multiple record at the same time.
    – wcdomy
    Apr 4, 2013 at 15:54
  • @wcdomy Even if it's only for single records, the same system applies. It's just that it is flexible enough to allow multiple actions (delete for example).
    – JohnGB
    Apr 4, 2013 at 16:02
  • 1
    This requires at minimum two clicks for a single action. Personally I find gmail's interface atrocious and annoying, and this is one of those features that annoys me. I have to click twice to delete an email?
    – richard
    Nov 20, 2015 at 9:38

I think it looks good overall.

However, I do think removing he column is better. Less icons is better, and its also just another button to accidentally click.


Sure, there is no problem with combining edit and the action menu items if the users are already familiar with the UI (apart from the few who will hate your transition, let's face it people don't welcome change with open arms). The only suggestion I would make it, move the action menu to the right end of the row. Idea being, people need to read the row item before deciding which row needs any action performed, so, you skip first column goto the name/title/email column and select the row and then come back to the first column. Whereas, if the action menu is last, you read the name/title/email and continue moving to the action menu, one fluid(ish) motion.

  • It is a good suggestions. The only concern is that we might have 10 columns and forcing people to scroll isn't ideal :(
    – wcdomy
    Apr 4, 2013 at 15:56
  • Oh, I assumed you had depicted the entirety of your table in the picture.
    – rk.
    Apr 4, 2013 at 15:59

Shouldn't be an issue. In fact in the present form when EDIT menu is separate from rest of the INTERACTION OPTIONS, I am finding it strange. So go for it and combine two left columns and it would improve your UI and its usability.

Another side tip if you may want to consider, Put ACTIONS column towards the right. At the moment you would spot an entry by looking in the middle columns (for example EMAIL ADDRESS or JOB TITLE) and slide your eyes back to perform an ACTION but if your buttons were towards the right, your eye wouldn't need to travel-backwards to perform any action and you could STOP-and-EDIT with one eye-movement, moving in forward direction only.


Your action button looks like a cog with an arrow. Try splitting the button and make clicking the left part of the button the first action (Edit) and clicking the right part of the button open the action menu.

This is a pattern that is used in the Microsoft Office ribbon and in Microsoft Windows (example from 10: File Explorer -> Home -> Open - with a file selected, shows the options from the Open with... menu on the right, left opens with the default program)

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