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It's easy to indicate an item is a dropdown when the item has a rectanglar shape. For example, bit.ly/Zbc1kq . But when the item has a circular shape

enter image description here

, what's the best position to place the indicator?

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Why do you want to use a dropdown in a circle. Thats not an anticipated affordance –  Mervin Johnsingh Feb 18 '13 at 20:03
    
It's not in the circle per say, I know it's my terrible example. Take a look at this dribbble.com/shots/468341-Profile-Dropdown . Remove the name "pie" and imagine a circular picture there for the profile dropdown menu, using a triangle next to a circle would look pretty weird right? That's why i'm looking for another way to indicate it's a dropdown menu. –  Tommy Adey Feb 18 '13 at 22:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would say there are three options:

  • to the right, providing white space between similar elements (pairs of circle and triangle down)
  • centrally (big triangle down)
  • in the right bottom position (a little triangle down)

After some explanations, what I understand is that you want to use it for user menu. I think it is quite common to have user menu, and I'm really not sure if it needs a special dropdown indicator. Look at the quick wireframe below. Once you communicate visually it is user related section, users will click it revealing menu (or even better: discover it after hovering on the icon).

enter image description here

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Sorry for my bad example lol. Look at this dribbble.com/shots/468341-Profile-Dropdown. If you remove the name "pie", the triangles still looks ok with the rectangle/square but it'll look weird with a circle. That's why i'm wondering if there's a better way or not to put it at all. –  Tommy Adey Feb 18 '13 at 22:12
    
Still not 100% sure what you want to achieve, but look at the updated answer above. –  Dominik Oslizlo Feb 18 '13 at 23:15
    
Thanks, that's exactly what i mean. I know it obvious for a lot of people to assume it's a dropdown but isn't it better to indicate it's a dropdown as well? –  Tommy Adey Feb 19 '13 at 0:09
    
I think a small triangle down in the bottom right will do, but wouldn't say it is necessary. One more thing - if you remove the username from the menu bar, you should place it somewhere in the dropdown, e.g. "Log out <username>" –  Dominik Oslizlo Feb 19 '13 at 6:57
    
Thanks, what if i were to put it under the circle, would that look bad? –  Tommy Adey Feb 19 '13 at 9:09

I'd say that there is something fishy with this situation. Is it really a "dropdown" and not a contextual menu you're going for?

Although they usually are very similar, the functionality differ in a couple of subtle ways.

If the circle is representing some kind of object, how would you indicate - if at all - that the object is clickable and subject to a contextual menu?

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Really sorry, that's actually a bad example. It's meant to be a profile menu dropdown(profile,settings,help and logout) etc. Something like this without the name "Pie". dribbble.com/shots/468341-Profile-Dropdown. In this case, the user's picture would be circular and it looks weird putting a triangle beside it=, you know. –  Tommy Adey Feb 18 '13 at 22:07

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