It's easy to indicate an item is a dropdown when the item has a rectanglar shape. For example, bit.ly/Zbc1kq . But when the item has a circular shape

enter image description here

, what's the best position to place the indicator?

  • Why do you want to use a dropdown in a circle. Thats not an anticipated affordance
    – Mervin
    Feb 18, 2013 at 20:03
  • It's not in the circle per say, I know it's my terrible example. Take a look at this dribbble.com/shots/468341-Profile-Dropdown . Remove the name "pie" and imagine a circular picture there for the profile dropdown menu, using a triangle next to a circle would look pretty weird right? That's why i'm looking for another way to indicate it's a dropdown menu.
    – Tommy Adey
    Feb 18, 2013 at 22:20

2 Answers 2


I would say there are three options:

  • to the right, providing white space between similar elements (pairs of circle and triangle down)
  • centrally (big triangle down)
  • in the right bottom position (a little triangle down)

After some explanations, what I understand is that you want to use it for user menu. I think it is quite common to have user menu, and I'm really not sure if it needs a special dropdown indicator. Look at the quick wireframe below. Once you communicate visually it is user related section, users will click it revealing menu (or even better: discover it after hovering on the icon).

enter image description here

  • Sorry for my bad example lol. Look at this dribbble.com/shots/468341-Profile-Dropdown. If you remove the name "pie", the triangles still looks ok with the rectangle/square but it'll look weird with a circle. That's why i'm wondering if there's a better way or not to put it at all.
    – Tommy Adey
    Feb 18, 2013 at 22:12
  • Still not 100% sure what you want to achieve, but look at the updated answer above. Feb 18, 2013 at 23:15
  • Thanks, that's exactly what i mean. I know it obvious for a lot of people to assume it's a dropdown but isn't it better to indicate it's a dropdown as well?
    – Tommy Adey
    Feb 19, 2013 at 0:09
  • I think a small triangle down in the bottom right will do, but wouldn't say it is necessary. One more thing - if you remove the username from the menu bar, you should place it somewhere in the dropdown, e.g. "Log out <username>" Feb 19, 2013 at 6:57
  • Thanks, what if i were to put it under the circle, would that look bad?
    – Tommy Adey
    Feb 19, 2013 at 9:09

I'd say that there is something fishy with this situation. Is it really a "dropdown" and not a contextual menu you're going for?

Although they usually are very similar, the functionality differ in a couple of subtle ways.

If the circle is representing some kind of object, how would you indicate - if at all - that the object is clickable and subject to a contextual menu?

  • Really sorry, that's actually a bad example. It's meant to be a profile menu dropdown(profile,settings,help and logout) etc. Something like this without the name "Pie". dribbble.com/shots/468341-Profile-Dropdown. In this case, the user's picture would be circular and it looks weird putting a triangle beside it=, you know.
    – Tommy Adey
    Feb 18, 2013 at 22:07

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