Action buttons allow users to perform an action or mark a selection. They’re used for similar, task-based options within a workflow, and are ideal for interfaces where buttons aren’t meant to draw a lot of attention.
Action buttons should have a label whenever possible for accessibility. If a label isn’t present, it must include an icon and it becomes an icon-only action button.
An action button can have an optional icon. If a label isn’t used, it becomes icon-only and must include an icon. Icon-only action buttons are best for very simple actions and should always include tooltips on hover to provide more context for the icon.
Action buttons come in four different sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large. The medium size is the default and most frequent option. Use the other sizes sparingly; they should be used to create a hierarchy of importance within the page.
By default, action buttons have a visible background. This style works best in a dense array of controls where the background helps to separate action buttons from the surrounding container, or to give visibility to isolated buttons.
Alternatively, quiet action buttons can have no visible background until they’re interacted with. This style works best when a clear layout (vertical stack, table, grid) makes it easy to parse the buttons. Too many quiet components in a small space can be hard to read.
An action button can have a selected state to allow for toggling — not only for taking a direct action. This can be used to disclose parts of an interface, such as for showing or hiding panels.
By default, action buttons are not emphasized. This is optimal for when an action button is not the core part of an interface, such as in application panels, where all the visual components are monochrome in order to direct focus to the content.
The emphasized action button has a blue background for its selected state in order to provide a visual prominence that meets the accessible color contrast ratio. This is optimal for when the selection should call attention, such as within a tool bar.
An action button can have a hold icon (a small corner triangle). This icon indicates that holding down the action button for a short amount of time can reveal a popover menu, which can be used, for example, to switch between related actions.
An action button in a disabled state shows that an action exists, but is not available in that circumstance. This state can be used to maintain layout continuity and to communicate that an action may become available later.
From the design point of view, each component has a number of options. These options and their names are platform agnostic, and each implementation should adapt these to fit into their framework.
text / nothing
When the label is not defined, the action button appears as icon-only.
icon / nothing
Icon must be present if the label is not defined.
small / medium / large / extra-large
yes / no
yes / no
yes / no
|has hold icon|
yes / no
yes / no
When the action button text is too long for the available horizontal space, it truncates at the end. The full text should be revealed with a tooltip on hover.
An action button can be navigated using a keyboard. The keyboard focus state takes the button’s visual hover state and changes the border to a 2 px blue border. For an emphasized action button that is selected, the keyboard focus state adds a blue ring to the button in focus.
In Windows high contrast mode, action buttons should be displayed using the high contrast theme-specified colors for buttons. By default, borders and icons should be the same color as the button text color. Quiet action buttons do not have a border in default and disabled states. In hover and keyboard focus states, a border should display as the button border color. In the disabled state, border, icon, and text color should display as the disabled color.
Icon-only action buttons can be hard to identify. They should always show a tooltip upon hovering for a short period of time, displaying the name and possibly a keyboard shortcut.
If you have an icon-only or text-only isolated action button, use the standard style to make sure it’s more easily identifiable as a button.
When using a hold icon to switch actions, only group the actions that are part of the same family. Don't group unrelated actions just for the sake of saving space.
In left-to-right interfaces, the hold icon is always in the bottom right corner of the action button. It's a symbolic indicator that shows that a popover menu will appear on hold. Don't change the placement of the hold icon based on the design of the interface.
For RTL (right-to-left) languages, the layout of the action button is mirrored. The icon is placed on the right side of the text and the hold icon is placed on the left side of the icon.
|Tab||Tabbing into an action button group places the focus on the first tool action button. Subsequent tabs move the focus to the next action button, or leave the group if the focus is on the last action button.|
|Shift + Tab||Moves the focus to the previous action button, or leaves the action button group if the focus is already on the first action button.|
|Space or Enter||Executes the action. The focus remains on the button except if the button opens or closes the current container. In this case, the focus moves to the target or back to the caller.|
|Sep 15, 2020||6.0.0|
|Feb 26, 2020||5.2.1|
|Aug 22, 2019||5.2.0|
|Aug 13, 2019||5.1.0|
|Jul 31, 2019||5.0.1|
|Apr 20, 2019||5.0.0|
Includes all interactive states that are applicable (hover, down, focus, keyboard focus, disabled).
Includes relevant options (variant, style, size, orientation, optional iconography, decorations, selection, error state, etc.)
Works properly across all four color themes (lightest, light, dark, darkest).
Includes a desktop scale (UWP, macOS, web desktop) and a mobile scale (iOS, Android, web mobile).
Includes guidelines for layout (wrapping, truncation, overflow), animation, interactions, etc.
Includes a list of dos and don’ts that highlight best practices and common mistakes.
Follows WCAG 2.0 standards for contrast (AA).
Works properly across various locales and includes guidelines for bi-directionality (RTL).
Follows WCAG 2.0 standards for keyboard accessibility guidelines and includes a description of the keyboard interactions.
All design attributes (color, typography, layout, animation, etc.) are included in Spectrum DNA.
Includes a downloadable XD file that has been generated by code and shows multiple variations, states, color themes, and scales.
Component is included in the Spectrum for Adobe XD plugin.