I'm on a C# Windows Form project, and most of my form is disabled at start, leaving only the connection fields enabled. When the user succesfully connected, a dropdown list gets enabled and the user has to chose a value from it.

For this example, what would be the best way to signal the user that the dropdown list got enabled and he can finally select a value from it?

I was at start thinking about using tooltip bubbles, but it seems just like an uneeded overload of information.

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  • 2
    What did you try that didn't work? And: a screenshot, however trivial, might help. – Bakabaka Apr 29 '14 at 13:34
  • If the user is not noticing that an element has been enabled, it may be time to introduce Next/Previous buttons on a multi-page interface similar to a Windows MSI workflow. – Andrew Leach Apr 29 '14 at 13:44
  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about UI design and probably a better fit for ux.stackexhange.com – Scott Apr 29 '14 at 16:22
  • One wonders: if you can't click it, why show it? – horatio Apr 29 '14 at 16:29
  • A screenshot or two to better illustrate the task flow would be very useful. – Evil Closet Monkey Apr 29 '14 at 23:19

Winforms is rather limited compared to what is available for web design, or even in WPF. You do have some options though.

What you need is to show that something has changed, and the change from disabled to enabled in Winforms doesn't really pop out at the user for some controls.

  • You could initially hide the other controls, rather than disable them, to make it really obvious something is new.

  • You could go with a wizard style dialog

  • You could flag the next control for data entry with a little green arrow icon

Not much else you can do with winforms without getting into annoying complexity.

  • I already got into insane-ing complexity... :) I was hiding at first, but it left too much room empty in my form. I did go for the "green arrow" thingy yesterday, and I'll implement the wizard later. Thanks. – Kilazur Apr 30 '14 at 7:57
  • @Kilazur Yeh, I think I lost years of my life trying to get winforms to look nice. I have one app where to get the interactivity I wanted I just made a canvas and rendered directly to the graphics object, handling all mouse stuff myself. – Franchesca Apr 30 '14 at 8:01
  • God, that sounds like lots of fun! I hope we'll just stop using winforms soon enough to avoid that... – Kilazur Apr 30 '14 at 8:08

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