I faced a problem that concerns the reading mode for the select components.

Imagine a situation where you set up a filter and choose some options in the dropdown. Then you run a search for suitable options. At the same time, the search options go into the inactive state (you need to reset the options to make the fields active again). But the user may need to see what options exist in this drop-down at all (actually, I didn't get why, but there's a requirement from the users).

Is it even possible to speak about the read mode for the select component in this situation? Can a dropdown be used only to view the options? Or does it still have 2 states - disabled, when it is impossible to open the menu, and active state, when at least one option from the list is available for selection?

The first screenshot shows how it's implemented now and is required (They called Read-only mode as Non-editable).

The second screenshot shows how people are expected to use this information. If you have a look at the status column in the table, you see that we have different types of document types that may have a different lifecycle and this is why people want to know what steps will be next, but they can't select anything from this list in the table.

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  • Please share the inactive state. What I don't get is why your design forces an interaction to release the controls. To expect a user to have remembered the list options doesn't seem realistic to me, and as this is a select list, the options are only discoverable after an interaction. Surely they must be able to weigh the search results against a possibly better filter configuration? IMO, this shouldn't require the two interactions, unless you have a really good reason. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 13:08
  • The inactive state is in the middle, greyed out and without the arrow. The thing is that people need to observe the whole list even if it's non-editable (imagine, you have a lifecycle with a set of statuses and such a dropdown in a "read-only" state allows you to have an eye on what next steps are possible). The difference is that in the active state people are allowed to type the value or select from the list. In this non-editable state (like in the right-side example) people should be allowed only to observe the set of possible options. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 13:45
  • I'm confused. If the disabled/inactive state (which technically aren't necessarily the same thing, but let's leave that alone for now) doesn't afford opening the list, how are they going to view the next steps possible? How many options will this list typically have? Do you really have to reset all the options to be able to use them again? This seems inconvenient. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


Without understanding the actual user requirement, or if you didn't get why this has to be implemented this way, it is hard to say much about how valid this solution is to the problem that they might want to solve.

Suffice to say, you can implement lots of different behaviours in your controls, but if they feel complicated to implement, it probably means that the underlying business logic or user experience is also going to suffer as a result.

For example, if people want to know the next steps in the document lifecycle, you can display this information for each type of document (if this is how the lifecycle is determined) in a different part of the interface depending on how often they will need to reference this information. And if they need to see if all the time, then you don't need to hide it behind an interaction like a dropdown control.

Mixing the display of current and future status of objects in the user interface with the states/status of your interface control doesn't feel very intuitive. However, if you find that it passes user tests with actual users then I don't see why you need to question it (if it is indeed a genuine requirement, for whatever reason).

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