I have a table with template names and the actions available will be shown in the form of icons next to the names. There are two options.

Option 1 Icons next to the name(left aligned) appearing on hover like in iTunes. Notice how the position of the icon changes with the length of the text before it. Left Aligned Actions Appearing onHover

Option 2 Icons in a static position at the end of the column appearing on hover like in Outlook. I feel the user will have difficulties selecting the icon corresponding to a specific row.

Right Aligned Actions Appearing onHover

I have three Icons which have to be displayed on hover. Please guide me as to which will offer a better usability.

3 Answers 3


Since you say that the actions are performed for single record and moreover the actions seem to be used rarely. Not many users Copy and Delete Template. But Selecting a Template as Default template is a commonly used action. So i would suggest you to Place the Default template action towards the left of the text and the copy and delete action to the right end of the record list. Something similar to the one shown below.

enter image description here


While the final answer to this question depends on your specific case, I can offer you a few pros and cons for each option.

Aligning to the text associates the icon with that text. This is good if there is a strong connection between the two. However, it makes finding and pressing the icon difficult when it is always in a different place.

Having the icons in a separate column is basically the reverse of the above situation. It makes it easier to find because the icons are always in the same place, but the connection is slightly weaker.

The approach that outlook took above is a good compromise. By placing the icons to the left of the text, there is still a strong association and the icons are displayed consistently, making it the most usable of the options.


The descision factor should be "Single Action" or "multi Action"

Action Such as "View Details" / "Edit" / "forward" are performed on single record at a time, while actions such as "mark read" / "mark unerad" / "delete" / "archive" can be done for multiple records.

Here if your action is for single record show it on hower / if it supports multiple records, it should be at to where you select multiple records and perform the action once.

  • All the actions are single record only, they Are "default Template","Copy Template","Delete Template". I am Confused between their placement towards either the right of the text or at the extreme right end of the column Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 9:17
  • I guess default belongs to "set to default" which can be bulk action ? similarly "delete" can be bulk action ( though you have to add checkbox / row selector to your records if you don't have already). If you still wanted to keep all to single record action , I would suggest to keep either at start or at the end of row with some gray color by deafult and on hover you and either make it more black or add color so that actions are easily visible. It also depends on the actual screen layout you are having. Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 5:28

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