I have a situation where an item that is selected from a dropdown needs a warning. The warning is to let the user know that the item is in a specific mode and that it won't behave as usual until the mode is changed.

When do you think this warning icon should appear, once the user selects the item(see option 1) or in the actual dropdown(see option 2)?

Either way the warning indicator will appear in the select input with a tooltip on hover.

just a note: the warning won't change the user's choice, it is just to inform him that he will not see what they expect to see while it is in the mode.

here is an illustration of my options(the text is just a placeholder) enter image description here:

  • Option 2 would definitely save some time. If this input is placed in a long form, with several options like this, then the amount of time the user saves at the end could be relevant. But it has usability issues, as @Vicktor_IV pointed out.
    – Laerte
    Aug 23, 2022 at 14:22
  • 1
    option 2 doesn't really save time, because the warning indicator will not affect the user's choice, for example, the user chooses a client's name - they won't choose another client's name they will just have to be aware of a special mode that client is in.
    – mayag
    Aug 25, 2022 at 7:46
  • Hmm, it makes total sense! I've read your question again and you have just stated this behavior there... Anyway, I would go with option 2 + Viktor_IV answer, concerning the usability issues of a tooltip in a dropdown.
    – Laerte
    Aug 30, 2022 at 18:18

2 Answers 2


Warning icon within the dropdown is not a very good idea but it has been used in many software. Major problem in option 2 is usability, hovering on tooltip which is already is overlaid dropdown, option 1 is better than 2 but still relying on user interaction not conveying any message upfront.

If change in behavior will impact user's actions then this information should be visible to user right away without any user input, if change doesn't impact the user behavior to such an extent that he/she might have to change the selection later than warning icon might work.

If change might impact user behavior that best will be inline warning which comes up instantly as user selects this option.

eg enter image description here


Option 2 seems better to me since it informs user right away on what is unusual if they proceed with that choice. However, I do agree with @Vicktor_IV that it does have usability issues. It might be worth exploring on how to incorporate that information along with the choice title. Example below: enter image description here

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