Drop-Down Usability

A great little write up detailing how to focus in on designing usable drop downs correctly. I’ve experienced this many times when it comes to building out CMS applications ( and other applications ) that give customers the power to create the experiences for there needs. Without guidelines or rules, these dropdowns can turn into unusable interfaces leading to frustrating experiences.

In most cases, these experiences can be solved before they begin, but that requires focus and deep thought on the UX well in advance. Solutions always depend on the context but If you work alongside an engineering team in most cases when developing software you can create guidelines with the engineers that could trigger if this then that type of actions. For example, if a user exceeds x amount of inputs on a dropdown switch the dropdown to a x type of controller for a better experience.

Read the full article https://baymard.com/blog/drop-down-usability

Our testing reveals that, in general, opting for an open text field or radio button interface instead of drop-downs with many or few options (respectively) is a better choice.

That’s not to say that drop-downs should never be used in these contexts, especially when there are many options to choose from. If there are many more than 10 options, and the optional input either has to be submitted in a known and structured format for validation and analysis, or where users don’t know their options upfront (hence, can’t type it), a drop-down can be a completely warranted choice.

It’s important to consider the specific site and field context when making a decision on whether to use a drop-down interface. However, it’s safe to say that drop-downs that have many options, or very few, warrant extra scrutiny to determine if it’s really the best interface choice.