I searched previous questions and mine doesn't exactly fit... I am working on a User Interface for a school course online application. The integral part of the application is choosing which term you would like to select and then it populates an adjacent drop down with the courses you have enrolled in for that specific term.

My question is: What would be an alternative or even better way to present this information?

Basically alternative solutions to drop down menus. This idea has to be on 13 other pages. Here is a screen shot:


  • There are a lot of interesting ways to do things, and a lot of ways that work for the user/provide them with a good experience, and these categories do not always align. Could you say more about the UX drawbacks to the current approach and what it is about the experience you need/want to change based on user feedback?
    – jcmeloni
    Mar 20, 2012 at 16:41
  • and what is the end-result? After selecting both options, what does the end user see?
    – DA01
    Mar 20, 2012 at 16:49
  • I am trying to move from a vertical from a 1995 vertical nav to a horizontal nav. My boss is telling me this needs to be a on every page. Upon selecting a current course based off of the term, you go to this page, notimefortime.com/image2.jpg
    – YoungGuy
    Mar 20, 2012 at 17:58
  • This course selector has to be present on every page. I am making wireframes currently that are centering the design and I am to give a more "updated" look. The main purpose of this UI overhaul by my bosses standards is to give a more updated look. The functionality supposedly isn't being complained about too much.
    – YoungGuy
    Mar 20, 2012 at 18:06

3 Answers 3


If the dropdown is your choice, why not try a enhanced version that offers more flexibility?

As an example, consider checking


You can see that the dropdown adds some styling (not a compelling feature) and adds a very useful searchbox inside.

The benefit of this solution is to provide an alternative (quicker?) way to find the informations.

A more radical approach could consider using a search box with autocomplete.

E.G. http://qpoit.com/marcofolio_demo/apple_search/


Based on the details you have provided and some experience from when I was attending school, a simple listing might suffice better then a drop down. Most people including myself only had at max 6 courses at a time (thought you do have the space for the overachievers).

  • This was my initial idea, but my boss shot it down.
    – YoungGuy
    Mar 20, 2012 at 18:07
  • 1
    What are the reasons it was shot down? This seems like the best idea to me. No point hiding choices if there is space to show them. Mar 21, 2012 at 15:10

I have been thinking about this 'how come we still use the wheel 10,000 years after its invention?' type question for a couple of years now.

The drop down list so old fashioned, and oldskool, that I wonder why this particular aspect of web design and User Interfacing has continued without deprecation.

It seems to me that most of the web design world has remained oblivious to the fact that drip down lists are extremely buggy and incompatible with touchscreen pcs and with mobile touchscreen devices, and tend to skip and jump to anywhere except where one is trying to select, resulting in a very stone age experience for the end user.

Hence, i have conceived of various ideas, which are inspired by mind maps, and the current java/Json based newsletter signup popups which are being implemented by most major websites.

Instead of having a drop down selector, one could have a menu button that opens a lightroom type popup with a mind-map like interface - by this, i mean a popup with round (or any shape you want) colored spots (or explanatory icons if needed, depending on what is to be selected) this would then stop the scrolling and skip effect, and allow selection with a smooth non clicky experience, that has a soft and smooth flow to it.

You could use clock for times, a calendar for dates, images of pizza toppings for food selection, a map of the area for geographical locations (connect to google maps) or whatever your imagination can conceive of to display and explain the function of each selector. Visual imagery instead of text, would also solve the multilingual problem

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