Primary Actions as the name suggests are the main actions a user performs on a form e.g. submitting information or approving/rejecting work. This post discusses a few patterns that should be considered while designing primary actions.

Clear Labels

More often than not, you will see a button at the end of a form called Submit. Even though Submit button knows what happens next, the user clicking the button might not. So, to make it intuitive for the user, it is a good practice to clearly label the Submit button i.e. what is the button doing. For example on an expense form, instead of just labeling it Submit, Submit Expenses will make more sense.

Adeel Javed - UX Patterns For Improving Worker Engagement

Expose Options

Another common theme we see is that a list of options is provided in combination with a Submit button. Options (a.k.a. drop-downs, a list of values, LOVs) are a great way to list data such as names and states etc., but users need to put some effort and perform additional steps in order to find required information.

So, for set actions, it is usually a good idea to make them as Button Groups. This reduces the number of steps required to perform an action and clearly tells users what is required of them.

Adeel Javed - UX Patterns For Improving Worker Engagement

Destructive Buttons

If there is a primary action that is considered destructive e.g. Reject or Cancel Request etc., highlight them in a way that its destructive nature becomes clear to the user. Asking for confirmation once the destructive button is clicked is another good way to make sure user does not mistakenly perform the action.

Adeel Javed - UX Patterns For Improving Worker Engagement


Actions like “Submit Request”, “Approve Request” and “Reject Request” etc. should be repeated. They should be placed on top and bottom of the screen. Repetition makes it easily accessible, the one at the top suggests what is to come and the one at the bottom is most likely the one that will be used by the users.

Another option is to make a floating bar for Primary Actions, that moves with the users so that they can take the action at any time.

Adeel Javed - UX Patterns For Improving Worker Engagement

Want to learn more about UX Patterns? Download your copy of “UX Patterns for Enterprise Applications” here.