Is it a common design approach to have the options of a drop down menu change depending on another input column.

For example say on one card I have a list of names and I can add/delete/edit the list of names anyway I like.

In a card below you're allowed to select one of the names; however, every time you update the card above the drop down menu options in the card below will change.

I can't find any examples of this pattern. Is it common and are there any examples?

1 Answer 1


Yes, it is common to have subsequent drop-down menus change based on previous selections.

The first example that came to mind was just about any site that has the user search for a particular make/model/year vehicle.

  1. User selects the make of the vehicle in the Make drop-down
  2. The Model drop-down only shows models which match the make.
  3. The Year drop-down only shows years in which that model was produced

I have also used this process on many sites over the years.

Having drop-down controls change based on previous related input is really the best from a usability standpoint. If the drop-downs contained all possible options, the list could be unwieldy and offer options which are not valid. If the user selected an invalid option (Make: Ford, Model: Sonata, Year: 1983) the system would have to alert the user of the error and force them to make another choice. This would be very frustrating for the user.

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