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I would like to know if the use of "skinned" or "custom" dropdowns is seen to be bad UX or not?

I am aware that notable successful online retailers (who carry out Hallway Usability testing), do not employ the use of skinned dropdowns as they do not look or feel like conventional dropdowns. I have also had a suggestion from a Senior UX developer that having "pretty" dropdowns on your website will not make or break the decision whether or not a potential customer makes a purchase on your site.

From a maintenance point of view I believe them to be a major headache as I have found you can quite easily spend hours of development time on something that adds little value to your checkout process or UX (IMHO).

This is an example of a dropdown that I have at the moment.

enter image description here

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Good custom dropdowns are good UX. Bad custom dropdowns are bad UX. Mediocre custom dropdowns are mediocre UX :). All depends on the implementation :) –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Sep 25 '12 at 12:11
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can you sit on the fence a bit more?? left a bit, left, go on.. there you go.. –  iancrowther Sep 16 '13 at 20:49
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you're using skinned inputs and other form elements I think an unskinned drop down breaks the flow.

The important thing to keep in mind is accessibility from a development perspective. All actions with a faux dropdown should make use of native form actions with the default select.

You should never break default behavior just to have something look nice. It is possible to still have accessible styles faux dropdowns. The idea is to ensure they're developed correctly from the front-end side.

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Yes, I think it goes without saying that a skinned dropdown needs to have at least the same functionality as a native dropdown. My dropdowns certainly do that, although in saying that dropdowns don't exactly have a massive array of features ;) –  crmpicco Oct 1 '12 at 15:52
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