I wanted to get some feedback on a design concept we are working on. I am concerned there isn't enough affordance for the user to understand what the dropdown is capable of. In short, some of our dropdowns allow you to select multiple values. But to do so, the selection stack under the control.

My problem is, when first seeing the drop down next to the standard one, you don't know which is the multi-select vs single. Any thoughts on how we can improve the affordance?

See examples...

static controls active controls

  • I know it takes some space but a listbox with check boxes
    – paparazzo
    Apr 9, 2015 at 16:45
  • 1
    Is the Jane Smith box editable? It looks like an input box. If not, can you edit the image so that it's less confusing. It's important that questions are well-phrased on StackExchange as you are likely to get a good answer.
    – tohster
    Apr 9, 2015 at 17:38
  • This can be canned. We found another solution that works better.
    – Budha
    Apr 10, 2015 at 18:52
  • 1
    @Budha: Can you detail that solution here, perhaps? May 9, 2015 at 18:36

2 Answers 2


I think the context of the menu goes a long way to imply that multiple items can be selected. I recently used jQuery MultipleSelect and it works great. The search feature was a plus for us as well, but it offers many different configuration options. As multiple items are selected, it replaces, then appends to the drop down text. Simple and easy, and no complaints.

Images pixilated to protect the innocent enter image description here enter image description here


I think a cheap way to make it clear is to add a small, gray text next to 'identity' stating 'multiple selection' or something like that. It can also be stated within the dropdown.

Or add checkboxes for options within the dropdown of 'Identity'.

  • That could work. Our concern is that, these are also used by our clients when creating forms and the labels could get long so more text could make the labels unnecessarily long. And the same problem exist when adding checkboxes in the drop down. We have some long values so that takes away from characters needed to display these long value strings.
    – Budha
    Apr 9, 2015 at 15:31

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