This is for a University Information Repository. The user must choose only one collection to submit a report item into. Each collection is gathered into a community. So the hierarchy from top to bottom goes Community > Sub-community > Collection. At the moment we have radio buttons for every collection. Should I use Dropdowns divided up into the Communities instead of radio buttons?

 Too many radio buttons.

  • Given that it's a long list of options, it essentially is a dropdown list. Just "open" by default. The issue isn't so much radio vs. drop down, but the fact that you're asking a person to pick an item from a huge list in the first place.
    – DA01
    Jun 2, 2015 at 3:52
  • is possible to select 1 item per category, or 1 item in the whole list? Jun 2, 2015 at 12:59

3 Answers 3


Because your list is really long, you should look at ways to make it shorter. Harvest has a great open source library for presenting lists. You can create a dropdown with all your options

You can group your categories in the list

You can group your categories in to a single dropdown list.



I think you have a bigger issue here: Radio inputs are unique, so the giant list is not needed at all, it only adds friction to the flow. You also say this:

So the hierarchy from top to bottom goes Community > Sub-community > Collection

Thus, why don't you simply let the user select the Community, then display ONLY the available sub-communities for users to choose, then ONLY the available collections within that community?

These approaches can be achieved with a variety of methods, from simple page to page navigation to AJAX based selection, enable/disable accordions and so on. But the most important part is to guide the user to a narrow and filtered set of options.

This way, you reduce the friction in the flow while accurately guiding the user to perform the right action for the right content, minimizing the chance for errors


On dropdowns


  • Takes little space - good when there are many fields to display on the page and there are many option to choose from. For 2 or 3 options radio groups are often better.


  • Extra click for selection.
  • Users can't see the options before opening the dropdown.
  • With long list it can be hard to find the right option.

Your case

I believe that in your case there is only the collection selection on the page, so I don't see any reason to hide all these options in a dropdown.

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