We have a time-series graph. The user can use a drop-down to select their years and these years are displayed on the chart. Currently, the dropdown is just a list of years for the past 30 years.

My superior is discussing ordering the dropdown, not by chronological order of years, but based on a value, such as the busiest year. My concern with this is that there will not be an expected order to the dropdown. Years will be all over the place, 2017 might be at the bottom whilst 2019 might be at the top.

I think it's very confusing to anyone trying to find a year. So I suggested we find a different way. They're suggesting we use a checkbox to modify the dropdown. Eg, default to chronological and change the drop-down to busiest to least-busy year if the checkbox is selected. I still have issues with this as I'm yet to see a website use boolean modifiers against a drop-down, I think we'll struggle to make it clear the link between the dropbox and the checkbox.

Any suggestions?


It depends on your users, but probably a bad idea.

If the list is sorted in ascending or descending order, a user will be able to figure out what's going on and they will know where to look for the year they are interested in and can skip right to it.

If the list is sorted by any other attribute that isn't visible, or that the user will not already have knowledge of, then they will have to scan each line to see if it is the year they care about and it will take much longer to interact with.

Based on your question, it could be possible that the years are secondary to the intended use case. Rather than intending to look up what happened in 1997, they might want to see what happened during the best year vs. the worst year. A different sort might facilitate this, but you should still show this data in the list to prevent it from being a mystery to your users.

$1.5M - 1997
$1.3M - 2017
$1.2M - 2014
$1.0M - 2001

You should do some testing to see if your users need to navigate to a specific year or an abstract target like "busiest" more often.

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I agree with the statement that the 'busiest' traffic year can be misleading. I think, however, that it is important functionality for business reasons.

Next to select, there may be a checkbox, which will sort dates in select depending on the variable in the chart in this case, the number of transactions, events, or whatever is to be presented in the chart - also the first solution that came to my mind. (you can add another option and apply the radio)

  • A - chronological(default)
  • B - by 'bussiest'
  • C - another option enter image description here

It doesn't seem to me a good and scalable solution

I suggest, however, to examine the user's needs - maybe it's not about the busiest year and the comparison (it can generate data insights)

  • Red - is 2018
  • Green - is 2019

enter image description here

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