I have a user interface that allows the user to select the view they want to see their data by.

At first there were only 2 options so I used radio buttons. But the client has been adding options and now they are up to 5 options and we are out of space.

enter image description here

Should I switch to a drop down list? Is there a better option?

Are there guidelines for which control to use depending on the number of options available?

  • 2
    This one will be hard to answer without more details - sometimes a radio group of 5 options is the right solution, sometimes a dropdown. How often users switch? Where in the interface the options show (is space an issue?), etc.
    – Izhaki
    Jul 10, 2014 at 1:45
  • Hi @Izhaki! Thanks. That's true. It's at the top of the screen. Users won't switch very often. The main issue is that I am out of space for radio buttons.
    – richard
    Jul 10, 2014 at 4:44
  • About Face book is amazing source of rationale for this kind of decisions.
    – digsrafik
    Jul 10, 2014 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


Quoting Jakob Nielsen here: " If possible, use radio buttons rather than drop-down menus. Radio buttons have lower cognitive load because they make all options permanently visible so that users can easily compare them. Radio buttons are also easier to operate for users who have difficulty making precise mouse movements. (Limited space might sometimes force you to violate this guideline, but do try to keep choices visible whenever possible.)"

The quote mentioned is point number 8 in the article which you can find here:

Having said that, sometimes both radio buttons and dropdown menus can be reasonable choices. It depends on how the UI is structured and the position of these elements and space constraints. If its necessary to be showing all the choices to the users all the time then radio buttons is the one to choose, else if thats not the case and if you you are expecting the choices to increase in the future then you can go with dropdown menu. Hope this helps.

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.