I am creating an application (specifically in FileMaker) that would store information about Vehicles, Drivers and the Trips done by Drivers using a Vehicle. In my Vehicle Details, I have Manufacturer, Model and Vehicle Type. I couldn't really decide if I should use a drop down list or a Look up form. I considered just using a text box for the user to input the Manufacturer, Model and Type details but it would cause inconsistency in the database. If I use a drop down list, I would have to pre-provide the values for the drop down. If I use a Look up, it would be up to the user to input the values.

Which approach would be better?

My actual frustration that comes with this is that I am using FileMaker and not really creating from scratch using a Programming Language (which for me is easier).

  • With Filemaker, you can set a field on a layout to present a drop-down list of previously entered values (while still permitting the user to enter new values).
    – Erics
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 10:34

2 Answers 2


I believe most any UI designer would tell you that trying to give specific advice for a solution is nearly impossible where we don't know the context and intent. For example, the engagement factor is critical, if the interface is transactional and user is pre-registration, the interface is entirely different from a UI where the user is motivated and registered, with intention established.. my point being that INTENTION is critical.

That said, there are two big sites that have millions of users that have ostensibly tackled the problem you describe... EbayMotors and AutoTrader: The options are disarmingly simple... but you will need a database with all the options to make it work:

Ebay Motors Selector
has a dynamic sub-menu that makes model selections based on Make choice

Ebay Motors selector



  • I can see your point and its very good. But the application I am creating requires the user to enter the vehicle details. The user is not searching for vehicles, he is entering the vehicles to the database. Say that in a company, they only have 10+ vehicles that needs to be on the record and more can be added in time.
    – SleepNot
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 5:36

I think the "10+" vehicles is the stumbling block. With just over 10 I'd be inclined to go with a simple, representative icon which you can pick, before enter the other details required.

If the vehicles increase this could get unwieldy.

Perhaps, for a simple register of journeys, a concatenated list of the vehicles and details would be better.

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.