We currently have a quick menu in our (web) application which is basicaly vertical list whith icons and names which drops down on demand.

Because some options in the list warranted sub-options we deceided to add submenu functionality to this list.

Instead of choosing 'send email' there are now the options, 'send email to client', 'send email to company' 'send email to...'

The version we developed now is the same list but some options now expand on hoover to show the subitems, and the 'submenu' item in the original list no longer has an action associated with it (it used to be one of the sub-options).

Now our accountmanager thinks we should make the 'submenu' option still clickable and perform the action that was there in the old version without menu's, Because this would be what the users expect.

I feel its a bad idea to combine the 2 UX interface concepts in one element.

So i was hoping to get some pro's and cons to using one item as both a menu and a action (not a split button/ mutton which consists of 2 separate parts)

  • Sorry @pvgoddijn is this what you're referring to? It's hard to visualize. getbootstrap.com/components/#nav-dropdowns
    – micap
    Oct 16, 2013 at 11:40
  • Basicaly the dropdown thing there but clicking on dropdown would perform an action and hovering would show the menu
    – pvgoddijn
    Oct 16, 2013 at 11:44
  • or like: getbootstrap.com/components/#btn-dropdowns-single but clicking on the button 'primary' 'secondary', etc would perform a action
    – pvgoddijn
    Oct 16, 2013 at 11:48
  • By Executive decision we went went the option to use the same element as both menu and button (no visual distinction, the menu opens on hoover). Will probably update the post with user-experiences later
    – pvgoddijn
    Oct 28, 2013 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


It's not desirable and while you might get away with desktop users who can hover over the element, this breaks down for users on a touch device. Tablets and phones.

If the submenu items are infrequently used - that is 80% of your users perform the submenu action, it does seem advantageous to perform that action.

But overloading a button is not generally a good idea when you want the user to have equal access to both performing the action and the submenu items.

My suggestion is to have a split button if that matches your menu style.

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