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I was wondering, if we were intent to let users make a choice, which UI/UX design is better, and why? - Pop up dialog or drop down list?

Pop up dialog

enter image description here

Drop down list

enter image description here enter image description here

The reason I ask so is that I'm currently designing a configuration page, for user to choose during home screen widget placing.

  • Choose 1 out of 2 choices, dark theme or white theme.
  • Choose 1 out of N choices, usually 10. Like "[country flag] My Watchlist", "[country flag] Son Watchlist", ...

My initial plan is something like

enter image description here

Just that, I'm not sure whether I should use Pop up dialog design, or drop down list design, for item [My Watchlist Choice].

  • 1
    Could you provide a bit more context, such as experience of your users, the number of options to select from, and how likely it is the user would change the default selection. – Erics Feb 3 '14 at 16:41
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Knowing the general pro's / con's should indicate when one is a better fit and why. What I have top of mind is

Pop-Up

  • can display more choices at a time (help user scan more efficiently)
  • hides other screen items (less visual noise, user can focus on task)
  • can layout in sections (to help user navigate if many choices)
  • can do non-list layouts (grid / tree. Helps user navigate between choices)
  • can add filter/find options (to help user find choice among many)

Drop Down

  • keeps context of the information being requested visible (helps user consider correct answer between two similar items)
  • does not require as large an eye shift (thus quicker user comprehension and response)

Overall it would appear, use Drop Down for a short list with a contextually sensitive choice. Use a Pop-up for long list with a standalone choice.

(edits and comments welcome)

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I think the big difference between drop down and pop-up is the fact that the last add a layer to the screen (it's better to avoid multiple pop-up which tends to be confuse).

So, if you're asking the user to choose from a list in a pop-up, it's clearly better to use a drop-down.

That been said, pop-up block the navigation so the user can't miss it and has to do something (making a choice for example). So if you really need him to answer a question, it would be great to consider using pop-up. Otherwise, if you have some kinds of default values or if the choice is only a part of a form, drop-down is fine.

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