Let's say you have a dropdown where a user can choose a color. I'm currently comtemplating whether or not to use the following scheme. When a user selects a color, that color disappaers in the sorted list of colors, but of course it is still visible at top (B) This is different from how dropdown menu's usually work (A):

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The advantage could be that users cannot reselect something that is already selected. In the color dropdown example this advantage is very small, but consider these cases:

  • A dropdown with only 6 options. Reducing this dropdown by 1 item makes it faster to mentally process all the options, considering the selected item is already processed in the user's mind and he doesn't have to reprocess/look at it again.

  • It saves space on the screen (again, the example with the color dropdown might not be relevant for this point).

  • A navigation bar where selecting an item would cause the page to reload (or go to another page). You do not want the user to be able to select the page they're currently viewing again, because that would cause an annoying and unnecessary reload.

  • A possible disadvantage could be that the list would change everytime, which actually increases mental load. For example: consider the options:

A B C D E.

When A is selected, then "B" would be the first visible option to select, C the second and so on:



When a user now selects D, the order of the unselected items change:



Suddenly, users who thought "the first item is always B", might misclick because now A is first and B is second in the list op options.

Any additional thought on this?

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    If you are going to change a standard control that's been around for many years you should have lots of research material to support that your changes really are improvements. The users are used to use the controls as they "normally work". However - this is not the same as "one should never break standards". – Henrik Ekblom Nov 24 '14 at 13:24
  • Your answer is stating the obvious. This question IS part of my research. – user1884155 Nov 24 '14 at 13:42
  • What did your user testing results show (if any are done)? I think such a specific case as you have describe above is pretty easy to measure since the faster a user finds the menu entry - the better the design. – Henrik Ekblom Nov 24 '14 at 15:35

I think this will not work well for the same reason that dynamic menus failed. The user uses location cues to select items quickly. The user may use the absolute location of the item, or relative to another item (e.g. LemonChiffon is below LawnGreen).

Removing the item from the list when selected, will disrupt the formation of the above cues and it will far outweigh any benefits of a list with one item less.

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