I have a dropdown list (styled like one you'd find in an online form) that changes a user's status. This dropdown list is part of a row in a table of users; each row is one user and each user has two dropdown lists and a few action buttons associated with them.
My boss would like to move one of the action buttons (which removes users) into a dropdown list, but the problem is that this action requires a confirmation popup.

Intuitively, the idea of having a disruptive event like a popup be triggered on clicking an item in the dropdown list seems like a bad idea to me, especially since the rest of the options in the dropdown don't trigger any such events. Clicking on this one item will now close the dropdown list, select the item, and generate a popup on an overlay that darkens the page. When you finish with the popup and get back to the page, the dropdown list is closed and there is no indicator of where you were in the table.

Rather than trusting my intuition, I'm wondering if there's any research on whether this is good UX in general, or failing that, any examples of widely used sites that use this sort of convention? Is there a better flow?

  • Would you mind attaching some screenshots or wireframes of this interface?
    – benortiz
    Nov 2, 2014 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


What you want to bring up with your boss is Consistency. This is a fundamental UX principle that this pop-up would violate.

Check out the consistency section of this UX Booth article:

... each user will choose to interact with your website differently; however, the way in which your website responds should be identical. ... For example, if a few of your external links open in a new window, consider extending this behavior to all external links on your website.

However, there is good reason to be sometimes inconsistent if it is purposeful and needed by the user. By being inconsistent, you can draw the users attention.

So, what about this pop-up is consistent with the rest of my site? If it is not, which it seems not to be, why am I breaking the consistency? Is it for my ease, my boss' ease, the developer's ease, or the user's ease?

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, if you do have to break consistency, be consistent about it. In your example, if you have to create the pop-up, be sure everything else about it is consistent with your site. It should use the correct colors, shapes, etc. You should integrate the pop-up behavior into other parts of the site. Even if it is not the most ideal interaction, making it consistent makes it a lot more bearable for your user because it becomes predictable.

Aside from the discussion on consistency, encourage your boss to stick to interactions that are common across the web. Creating new types of interactions can be fun and seemingly make your site interesting, but more often than not end up confusing your users.

  • Helping the user should be norm rather than consistency. Consistency is so overrated in UX. Seamless workflow should be king...!
    – edgarator
    Oct 31, 2014 at 11:16
  • Exactly, don't be consistent until it hurting the user. By all means, break it if that's what the user needs. Do you have a definition of a seamless workflow, edgarator? How does it differ from consistency?
    – benortiz
    Oct 31, 2014 at 14:57

I am unsure what is the use case or scenario after you click on the drop down option. But as mentioned by Benortiz, it depends upon what you are solving here. If it is necessary then you can have a pop-up screen to finish the task. Some points you need to keep in mind 1. How frequently does this option used by the user - if it is very frequent then you need to provide some options not to ask many times like, remember my password, or warnings, etc. 2. Does that option falls under same classification with other options, if not, try to put a partition line to distinguish the actions / options within the drop down. As like Google chat have. (Attached screenshot)

enter image description here

Hope this helps.

  • This is a great answer. @rach oune, is this not something that a sub menu like the above could solve? The small arrow there is great at breaking the consistency to say "hey something is different here." And then it uses a standard sub menu that a user is more familiar with in terms of interaction rather than a pop-up.
    – benortiz
    Oct 31, 2014 at 15:02
  • @benortiz It's a confirmation popup for a delete action, so unfortunately the disruptive nature of a popup is needed... and to make things worse, it's not a dropdown menu, it's a dropdown like you'd see in an online form...
    – rach oune
    Oct 31, 2014 at 16:22
  • @rach oune, if you could provide more details about your specific situation, we could be more helpful. But, with what you've said, it sounds as if just a generic pop-over would do fine. click delete confirmation dialogue confirm intention try something like this sweet alert library.
    – benortiz
    Oct 31, 2014 at 21:45
  • @benortiz I guess I'm curious on a more general level than for just my specific situation as to whether spawning a popup from a dropdown list is good UX. I'll update my question to try and be more clear though
    – rach oune
    Oct 31, 2014 at 23:01
  • @rachoune, I understand, it is just difficult to speak about things like this so generally because they tend to be so context specific. I appreciate it!
    – benortiz
    Oct 31, 2014 at 23:04

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