I am developing an iOS app at the moment and I need to allow the user to choose one text from a list of given texts. The texts are around 30-60 words long. What is the best way to present the information to the user?

I thought about a dropdown but I believe it will be too messy if I present around 20 texts. So is there a better way?

  • What do you consider messy about a dropdown? That is the common implementation of auto complete. – paparazzo Jan 20 '15 at 15:54
  • I thought that it would be too much information for a dropdown. But if it is the recommended way I need to do it. I am no designer so I am always wondering if there is a better possibility to solve something and if I am simply not aware of it. – Robin Ellerkmann Jan 20 '15 at 16:10
  • 1
    I am developer but that seems to be the common approach. You can limit the size of the dropdown and it must scroll if there are more items than fit. Another implementation is only show the first X. Tab to select the top/next is also a common. – paparazzo Jan 20 '15 at 16:14
  • Question: How familiar are the users with the list of text items? Would they be able to distinguish between items if they're only shown a short excerpts couple words long? Do they need to read the entire "text" to confirm the one they want or would they be able to determine which one to choose if they're only shown the excerpt? – nightning Jan 20 '15 at 19:44

Taking in account that each text will have 30-60 characters, if after selection your app moves towards another page/slide (so you don't have any other controls in the same page, which is usual on mobile) you can just place the text divided with lines or as in the image with different color backgrounds and a scrollbar which main role is to serve as a position indicator:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • That is what I will try to implement. I am not quite sure about the colors but I will test whether they improve the user experience. Thanks for the detailed Wireframe – Robin Ellerkmann Jan 22 '15 at 15:20
  • 1
    Colors where just a example, you should use the ones that combines with your whole application. Also the white space between each textBox is not necessary. – Alejandro Veltri Jan 22 '15 at 15:25

From the iOS Human Interface Guidelines, you use what's called a:

enter image description here

  • 2
    I think the issue is the length of the each item that goes into the picker. Each item is like a mini paragraph (30-60 words long). That'll likely make a picker difficult to use. – nightning Jan 20 '15 at 19:40
  • Yea ... that's possible. It's a simple test. – Code Maverick Jan 20 '15 at 19:45

I am more of a developer and get beat up by the UX guys but I do something a lot like this but on a larger screen.

Our users can create notes. And these notes can be up to 800 characters. They like to re-use some / many. In the list I only show the first x characters. In the select/edit box they see the whole message. Tab in the last position scrolls forward / back on entry. As soon as they enter enough characters to make the note unique it locks in. When they type in a no match then the list goes blank.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.