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Is it better to use tabs instead of a dropdown menu in a contact form?

Examples:

Contact

Contact sector

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3 Answers 3

Both of the options can provide good user experience if they are used properly.

In your case, the drop-down provides a better user experience for the following reasons:

  1. The content of each form for the sections is the same, therefore there is no point in loading a different form for each "tab." Even if you treat it as a button, it will not trigger any actions so it will defeat it's purpose.

  2. The user might be confused and select the tab and not understand why the content does not change per sector.

  3. It uses less space and looks neat.

  4. It's such a small form that is better to keep it small and sweet.

Tabs are good when you have content that is different in each section. Drop downs are good for selecting a variable in one field.

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I agree, thanks a lot!! it was very helpful! –  user31443 May 22 '13 at 11:34
1  
I agree with your answer, but as a footnote I'd add that drop down menus don't show the available options. In many cases this is not an issue but in some it might and visibility would usually be preferable (e.g. with radio buttons). –  Koen Lageveen May 22 '13 at 12:12

Tab is for navigation, drop-down is for input.

Though tab can be used for input like you have done, I feel it is not a good thing to do. I was confused by the first design, as to, what should be done here. Do I Need to fill the form on each and every tab?

I would go with the drop-down.

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The tabs feel separate from the contact us form itself and almost create 5 different contact us forms. I feel like the user could miss that step entirely and you will get more submissions to Sector 1 because that is the default tab.

The dropdown fits better in to the steps of the contact us form, and provides users with an easy to read, step-by-step approach. You could even remove Sector 1 as the default selection of the dropdown, and make it required. That way the user is more likely to select the correct Sector because they will be prompted to go back and select a sector in the case that they missed the dropdown.

Both of them work from a user's perspective, but, I think you will be more likely to get the submission to the correct sector with the dropdown approach.

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