I'm working on a ui for a page in an application that is essentially an image library. The mocku shown below is the page the user sees when they have performed a search for items to update in bulk (by update I mean edit the metadata of). ANyway the functionality has grown so the user can now run a find and replace against the selected items and delete the items from the system. Most of the time the user will be performing a standard bulk update, so I favoured a primary/secondary actions approach (option 1 below).

My colleague though likes the idea of lots of buttons as it makes the page look more 'feature rich'.

Which do you prefer and why?

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


In option 1 I can see there is the bulk update action - but I can also see that there are other actions because the 'or' word tells me so, so I'm compelled to see what those other actions are, even if I think I just want to do Bulk Update anyway.

So for this reason I favour the option that shows me all the actions available most clearly and quickly, and that is option 2. It's option 2 because the actions are presented to me in a simple, clear consistent fashion, with short easy-to-read header terminology, and a description underneath if I feel I want to know more about those options.

So - Option 2 lets me decide more quickly that the first action is really the one I want to do, but also that if I do wish to proceed with one of the other actions, that I have an equally consistent type of target area to hit with the mouse.

Assuming Deletion is a critical action, which it looks like it might be: The danger of accidentally clicking on the delete action (when I meant find and replace) in option 1 is greater, so I additionally favour option 2 because the Delete action is far enough separated, that I'm unlikely to accidentally click on it.


Which is the most common action? The single large button in the first option suggests that "Bulk Update" is the preferred action and the other two would be used less often. This is good if doing the bulk update is the most frequently-used action, but may be a problem if the other links are thought to be unimportant. With the second option the three actions are given equal prominence and I'm more likely to pay attention to them.

  • Yep 'bulk update' is the most commonly used action, hence my leaning toward a primary/secondary approach. But I guess the other actions are technicaly just as 'important'.
    – benb
    Jul 14, 2011 at 14:35

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