I am looking at improving an existing design, which has the following properties:

  1. The information is hierarchical;
  2. Every node in that hierarchy can do multiple things, such as expand to view children, view information related to that node on a different page, and to add to a list of favourites.

Right now, a tree is being used for expanding, and on clicking the text for a node, a bubble is shown listing options.

Right now, the only other idea I have is miller columns. Although the behaviour supported here is a little different, as its uses tend to have one particular function for an item, i.e. expand or open.

Finally, it is for the web, so can't really use right click.

Any ideas of something that has similar functionality?

1 Answer 1


My suggestion context sensitive actions in a panel.

Many other applications have panels that change upon the context of what is selected. Clear examples include the panel that used to be in Quarkexpress that changes to show the properties of what is selected.

The advantage of having a visible options rather than hiding them under a menu is that the user can see what they can do at that point of time. Putting every option on screen at once is overkill but many other applications use the context sensitive panel approach to solve this. Another great example is the interface for Ableton Live.

One last thing - if you add a visible panel, have it 'docked' - floating panels quickly lead to clutter.

  • 1
    Adobe Indesign does this as well. May 9, 2013 at 9:45
  • 1
    Yep - then nicked it from Quark! May 9, 2013 at 19:01

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.