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Is drag and drop (for say photo uploads) a good idea? Aren't users frustrated by all the steps you have to take? Do most people even know how to do it?

  • Open a window
  • Browse to your files
  • Ensure correct window overlapping
  • Drag and drop (with risk of dragging and dropping to the wrong place, i.e. a shared folder, the trash etc.)
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Good question. In the context of a file selector (for photo uploads among other things) I never use drag and drop. And of course drag drop is used much less on touch because it's rather clumsy. But no doubt people expect it on the desktop. I'd like to know how many people would be disappointed if a file uploader didn't support it. –  obelia Jul 23 '13 at 19:20
On a desktop I use it all the time because of it's directness when moving things from one place to another. For example dragging and dropping a whole bunch of files to a media app; moving files from one folder to another etc. –  uxzapper Jul 23 '13 at 23:26
Which platform are you talking about? On the Mac, drag and drop is far, far more useful (and seemingly more heavily depended upon) than on Windows. I use it exceedingly often (hundreds of times a day). I can grab a photo from within an iPhoto window or a song from an iTunes library or an attachment from a mail message and drag it directly onto a file upload window without even knowing where on the system it actually resides. –  Kit Grose Jul 24 '13 at 4:17
Dragging to the wrong place is a good point - although what really gets me is the lack of an undo/emergency-stop function when I drag things to the wrong place. –  Jessica Yang Jul 24 '13 at 8:41
@JessicaYang When you drag to the wrong place the simplest undo is to drag them again from there to where you meant them to go in the first place. This can be made really easy if the files you dragged are/stay automatically selected in their new location. –  Marjan Venema Jul 24 '13 at 10:55

5 Answers 5

Drag & drop is absolutely an expected behavior to support. It's like asking "Should we support keyboard shortcuts?".

While the feature may not be used by the majority of users, the ones that do use it really rely on it.

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The one time I think it wen't to far is with click and drag blocks of selected text. I cannot fathom why someone would think that is a feature so important that it justifies it's error prone nature. –  Justin Meiners Jul 25 '13 at 3:05
Hardly anyone ever uses drag&drop, hardly anyone really likes it (but developers like building it and managers like selling it), but sometimes it's just the best way to do something. –  Koen Lageveen Aug 20 '13 at 14:13

Yes, people do use them now. But the 4th point you specified is correct one. There is a risk of dragging and dropping to the wrong place.

If guidelines are specified properly, the mess may be reduced.

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Drag-and-Drop is a lot more easier and I prefer to it over "Browse-Locate-Upload" Function whenever it comes to attaching files to email, creating albums or upload files to drop-box.

With Drag-and-Drop, you use your favorite image browser and locate the file more easily then using a small "Locate File Dialogue Box" which often doesn't show preview and locating a folder requires multiple clicks. Most of the time when you want to upload a file, you have the file located already (either in image viewer or windows/mac explorer) and thus there is no effort to locate the file.

Now when you compare Dragging-Dropping (single action requiring one click) Vs Browse-Locate(multiple-clicks)-Upload, you know which is the right way to go.

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It's a question of user's mental model. If I give you a ball, it's likely that you'll want to throw it.. or if have a button you are likely to press it.

A simple example for drag and drop is priorty order of a list. Forgetting about the software, the mental model of the users in most cases would be to take what you want and move it up or down. The design simply reflects that, and because it works as expected, it leads to a positive experience.

The frustration would come from a few reasons:

  • Their mental model was not of drag and drop, but the interface expects that
  • The drag and drop is not implemented correctly, this could be any thing: It's nto clear what can be dragged, it's not easy to grab it, it's easy to loose it when dragging, the state of the object is unclear, it's unclear where it can be dropped, there is no feedback that it was dropped correctly etc.
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Yes they do use drag and drop. Infact, i think when a user gets a new app, they would try to see if drag and drop works for them in an appropriate scenario, i know i would, because it is one of the oldest and best-est trick in the book. People are so much accustomed to drag and drop and i dont really think a person who has experience using a computer(which is like everybody today) will make much mistakes during drag and drop, maybe once in a while or so.

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