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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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Sender: "ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
X-To: Francois Jordaan <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2005 12:29:09 -0500
Reply-To: "Todd R. Warfel" <[log in to unmask]>
From: "Todd R. Warfel" <[log in to unmask]>
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I'd be more interested in seeing some of the demographics on that

In the majority of testing we've done, participants get confused by
dropdowns. For navigation, they're not sure if the action will happen
on release of the menu, or by using the button next to the menu. We
contribute this to the inconsistent methods used for dropdowns. So,
users/customers/participants can't predict what's going to happen next.

The other thing to keep in mind is error prevention. It's not unusual
for someone to inadvertently select the "wrong" option in the dropdown
and have to go back to select the correct option when the dropdown menu
automatically executes the selection upon release.

All in all, dropdowns are a very poor method for navigation.

On Jan 31, 2005, at 11:56 AM, Francois Jordaan wrote:

> On balance, I'll be recommending this approach in future:
> 1) Dropdown menu WITHOUT button, although using Cameron Adams's script
> [1] so that the arrow keys work normally
> 2) Button is removed using JavaScript, or added using <noscript>, so
> that it's still usable if JavaScript is unavailable
> Note that this only applies to dropdown menus (<select> elements) used
> as navigation, or that have to do something on the page immediately
> upon selecting. It does not refer to the conventional use of dropdown
> menus in web forms. I'd also like to add that I'm not a big fan of
> dropdown menus for navigation, especially if it contains heterogenous,
> unalphabetised items -- like the 'Quicklinks' Tania mentions. But
> there are occasions where they work well, or where a client insists on
> it.


Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
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In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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