[thelist] XHTML Valid Jump Menu

aardvark roselli at earthlink.net
Thu Oct 24 22:33:01 CDT 2002

> From: "rudy" <r937 at interlog.com>
> oh, please, not this old canard

it gets better with age, i assure... i even keep it in a wooden cask
under my desk...

> i shall do my duty and present the counterargument once more
> a jump menu that uses onchange without a go button is evil, i'll
> agree, but with or without a go button, it is still a perfectly good
> form
> by comparison:   there's a form on the home page of google, you enter
> something into the text box, push the "go" button, and go to the
> search results page for whatever you chose to put in

yes, there is, but that is a form where the user gets to enter a
*general* idea and let the form do its magic of returning some
possible hits...

> with a jump menu, there's a drop down select list, you make a choice,
> push the "go" button, and go to the page for whatever choice you made
> what you're suggesting is that "go" when accompanied by a text box is
> a good form, and when accompanied by a select list isn't?

no -- i suggested nothing of the sort... you did that...

what i'm suggesting is that a form used to select a discrete page
from a known list can be better accomplished with a hyperlink...

take the old usability argument:

with a set of hyperlinks:
i come to the page, i can see my options, i can click to select, or
if i'm using another browser, i can highlight and go... i don't need
my browser to be in any particular configuration in order to use it,
and i don't need any server-side technologies...

with a form select:
i come to the page, and i see the form... i click to open and then
read the options... if there are a few, i may have to click to scroll
through them... if it uses a script to fire onchange, i have to be
careful not to mis-click, else i can get moved to somewhere else when
all i was doing was looking... then i have to click to select... if i
don't have scripting on, i go nowhere... if there's a 'go' button, i
have to click yet again...

all you have to do is sit your users down for a usability test and
you will find the same thing i've found every time i've tested it...
a jump menu results in:
- longer time to find and read the options...
- more clicks to choose one...
- higher error rate (by a *huge* factor)...
- less browser support...
- less design control (because they don't take CSS as well as other
elements in IE/win, too many users don't equate it to the site as
navigation and lately more and more seem to treat it like those fake
forms on ad banners)...

now, if you want to talk code and appropriate use, why would a form
be more appropriate to move a user to another page, with no other
variables needed, than a hyperlink?

> please
> this idea about forms not being used for navigation is a crock

it's a crock only that people use them for discrete navigation when
they are unnecessary...

> when i use google's form, i want to navigate to a very specific search
> results page

no, you want to see the results of the search on a page -- you don't
know *what* page you're going to see, and it may be different every

if what you say is truly the case, why on earth wouldn't we dump all
navigation and use nothing but search forms for every site?  no text
navigation, no hyperlinks, just a single search box... *i* know i
want to see the contact page, so why wouldn't you just make me type
"contact" into a form -- because it *is* a very specific page, and
you have told me that the search box *is* a navigation element...

> when i use a jump menu, i want to navigate to a very specific selected
> page
> same difference

yes, you do want to go to a specific page -- but it costs you 2 or
more extra clicks to get there, or you have to have a certain browser

when i open my file cabinet to get a file, do you think i want to see
the names of the tabs and just grab my file, or do you think i want
to open the drawer above it, flip through a rolodex, press a little
red button corresponding to the file i want and have the file cabinet
open up and push the file out for me?

i wanna grab the damn file... and if i have to move and press three
other things to do it, i'm leaving the file on my desk and never
putting it back... or better yet, i'm never opening the drawer...

so, why is the rolodex in the other drawer better than the regular
old file tabs?

Read the evolt.org case study
Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself
ISBN: 1904151035

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