My user/customer is a doctor and when registering must submit his/her specialty.The specialties are about 70.

Given that number(70) what do you think is better...a dropdown menu or an input that has a search functionality(makes an ajax call for every keyword typed)..or maybe sth else...I am open to suggestions.

3 Answers 3


Consider a combo box with autocomplete. The user likely doesn't need to depend on browsing a dropdown list to find their specialty, but the dropdown will help in case the term they want to use is slightly different from the system's.

Dropdown list with autocomplete

When an invalid value is entered, the user can see something like "No Options". They can then try another value, or clear their input and check the full dropdown list.

Invalid input with no options

  • well...your last phrase reveals the problem with this approach...they can enter whatever value they like...sth I do not want. Jun 8, 2021 at 12:33
  • If they enter an unsupported value, the dropdown goes blank and they can't continue. The link in my answer will let you see the pattern in action.
    – Izquierdo
    Jun 8, 2021 at 13:19
  • explain me this just to see if I understood it correctly....when the user enters an invalid value and clicks outside the box the value is cleared and only the label text is shown...is this what you mean? Jun 8, 2021 at 15:36
  • I'm updating my answer to provide a screenshot of that case.
    – Izquierdo
    Jun 8, 2021 at 15:40
  • well...I understand what are you talking about. But here lies the problem....let us take your example...123 is an invalid value...if the user clicks the submit button 123 will be sent to the server...and this is what I am trying to prevent here. Jun 8, 2021 at 17:09

In this case, the user is a doctor and they exactly know what's their specialty. So you can use a list box with a form field to search. If screen space is limited use a dropdown with a form field.

enter image description here

For more research details, read this article: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/listbox-dropdown/

  • it seems dropdown is the preferred method here as I have concluded Jun 19, 2021 at 6:16

In this case if you list the specialities in alphabetic order, it should be just good. Alphabetic order is one of the earliest method of ordering things and still works great. The cognitive strategy of the user will be: quickly locate the first letter of my specialisation (2/3 seconds), then accurately find it in a little subset of labels (additional 2/3 seconds).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.