[thelist] Dropdowns - good or bad?

Richard H. Morris richard.morris at web-designers.co.uk
Tue Nov 21 14:13:02 CST 2000

martin.p.burns at uk.pwcglobal.com noted:

> -----Original Message-----
> Both examples could be solved using other methodologies - why not
> use a hierarchical list on the first site (with bookmarks to each
> section)?

In this instance, it was decided that the latest case summary should always
show on the page without scrolling and without having to load another page.

The site in question is http://www.adjudication.co.uk

> What's wrong with normal hyperlinks on the second?

It's a question of screen space again and a desire not to use the (cliched)
inverted L navigation. The 'usual' hyperlinks are at the bottom of the

> Why force users
> to learn *your* way of doing things when they already know the
> 'underlined=
> link => click on it' paradigm? This is pretty close to the core
> of HCI: don't
> force
> users to learn stuff specially for you (they won't).

It's nothing they haven't seen elsewhere.

> That said, I have seen secondary/tertiary navigation with dropdowns
> implemented fairly successfully - http://news.bbc.co.uk/ has links to
> related stories using dropdowns. However, have a look at their
> low-bandwidth version - they just use normal links.

And truly horrible the latter looks too! Seriously, there is a need for them
to provide a minimalist option and I try to code for speed, but in these
days of ADSL/cable and fast modems are we a dying breed? Most B2B scenarios
will soon involve high bandwidth - look at all the Flash sites - so that
diehards like Nielsen and others will be seen as the prophets of doom...

Sorry to be a heretic, but I think his site is the most unappealing one I've
ever seen!

> Also, many people implement drop downs without a 'go' button, simply
> using an onChange event to fire the user off. This has major usability
> (what if you slip and let go by accident..?)

True enough, and I'm guilty as charged in this respect.

> and accessibility (relying on
> client-side scripts alone to use the site is very inaccessible to
> many disabled
> users).

I think that's where defining the Client's user demographic is important:
should we spend more time (and money) on a Client site to make it
universally accessible for no gain to *them*?

> Question: are they good because the client asked for them?
> (you seem to be implying this...)

No: because they work for the sites in question.

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Richard H. Morris, Director, Web Designers Ltd
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