We are doing an internal makeover to our existing Timesheet Mac app. In that I ran into a situation where I have to decide either of the below options.

Option A : Tap, Tap, Tap

Like the smartphone behaviour (Tap, Tap, Tap) It will have recently used 5 selections. User just needs to tap the one's they wanted to select. Please don't worry about if the required selection is not available in the list.

Perfect example for this would be the iPad buying page from the Apple Website. Please go through the selection for Model, Finish, Storage & Connectivity.

Option B : Keyboard Entry

As a conventional method user can quickly enter the details by using the below methods

  • Tab for navigating
  • Type couple of words and select the content
  • CMD (Mac) + Enter for Submit

I strongly into option A, because I just need to tap the one which is presented visually, considering the fact mostly used details are presented in the list. Since everything is presented in front of the user, they can quickly tap the selections they wanted to.

But some of our colloquies from development teams are disagreeing with me. They feel time can be saved by using keyboard entries.

What is your opinion? with explanation (if possible).

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3 Answers 3


If you have as little options in your dropdown as you have shown, then I would suggest going for option A yes, as it makes all the options visible at once, instead of hiding it in the list.


  • The first level of list(Project) will have a minimum of 50 selections, second level (Module) will have minimum of 20 selections and in third level (Task) is approx. 5 selections. In Option A, the recently used 5 are shown by default which are the things user needs mostly. I will have an Edit / Modify button in the end of each category. User can Tap that button to choose their own selections manually in addition to the recently used 5 selections.
    – Vadivel
    Dec 16, 2017 at 0:37

Keyboard entry can save time if the form is part of a repeated process, particularly if users will become familiar with the selection options.

If I can tab through a series of dropdown menus, typing the first few letters of a selection and then tab down, that's going to save me time vs. scanning a visual menu and tapping.

The 'State' field in a address form is a good example. I'd rather be able to tab to a drop down, type 'mi' then the down arrow a couple times to reach 'Missouri' then have to find Missouri on a visual list and tap it.

That assumes that there are many items in each list, say 10+. For fields with something like 2-6 options, a visual presentation might save time.

Either way, this is a great candidate for user testing.

  • Yes, the list have more datas & surely tab, type 3 letters & select will save more time. The case is equally matched for ‘Tap’ entry method as well. Because required (mostly used) datas are presented to the user to tap. As @TristanSchaaf pointed out in another answer, ‘muscle memory’ gives extra value to the ‘tap’ entry.
    – Vadivel
    Dec 20, 2017 at 8:23
  • I am not sure whether I am dragging this topic to a detailed discussion. Even I looked for a case study or an article where this topic is analysed, but couldn’t find any reference.
    – Vadivel
    Dec 20, 2017 at 8:28

I would suggest the tap method so long you can provide a scanable overview of the options. Also if it's important that users can see the scope of the options. And finally, if it's a often repeated task, use the tap method (due to 'muscle memory')

But place the buttons in a more scanable grid, instead of being squashed together, and if it's really a tap and not click, make sure the tap-area is big enough.

So long you have about <10 options, the tap method would work. If it becomes more then that, keyboard entry is possibly the better method. You can also make the tap method work with the tab- and arrowkeys of the keyboard.

  • I take the values of ’muscle memory’ due to repeated tasks. Even though I’m borrowing ‘Tap’ concept here, it is still a desktop app and used by mouse. I definitely consider your point of keeping larger grid and tab / arrow keys for navigation for the ‘Tap’ entry method.
    – Vadivel
    Dec 20, 2017 at 8:21

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