I have a particular web interface in which drag-and-drop may be useful, however, the problem that I see is that the list of items to be dragged could potentially be very long (below the fold).

Is it bad practice to implement a drag and drop UI when things could be off screen?

See mockup for details:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • If you can get the list to scroll properly as you drag, it might be OK. But if you can't, then it's just annoying.
    – DA01
    Dec 19, 2012 at 19:14

2 Answers 2


I think this sounds like an interesting UX challenge!

It definitely doesn't have to be a bad idea, if you think it through and make the action transparent and easily controllable I believe it could be a good interactive attribute.

Some things to consider:

  • How will a user move items further up/down the list?

Conventionally, looking at file explorers etc, I would say the user grabs an item and moves it towards the edges of the list making the list scroll faster when the item is closer to the list's top/bottom.

  • Won't that make it hard dropping it in the right title/category if the list is scrolling fast?

It could, unless you design around that. Add a visual indicator that clearly shows the user where she is in the list, and also where she need to go to get to the desired title/group. Just a quick mockup:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

The title scroll to the right appears when an item is dragged. As the user moves the item and the list starts scrolling so does the title scroll, showing the user on which title they are and in which direction they should drag the item. Another cool feature could be if the user could simply drop the item in the wheel on the desired title/group.

This is just a quick mockup, and it needs more thought I admit. I hope you can find some inspiration in my post however!

  • Ah, very interesting! I love the approach of the "10 thousand foot view" of the "buckets" on the right hand side. Could you elaborate on that a bit? Are items drag and dropabble to that list on the right? Or is it merely just a cue to the user to let them know where they are relative to the overall page?
    – Muers
    Jan 4, 2013 at 17:12

I am researching this myself. Off-screen scroll lists of drop targets are problematic in several ways: Initiating the scrolling and maintaining it is a pain, whilst at the same time you're searching a moving list. You also have to maintain a possibly extended time of holding down the button the whole time, which sometimes fails and you've just lost your draggable item in one of several places. Finally, you lose train of thought of what you're trying to accomplish, by having to interact in quite complex ways in a search for target operation. Folderizing emails in outlook is one such thankless and sadness inducing task. I'm toying with the idea of the target list appearing in situ, with a centered and magnified target, similar to iphone list selection.

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