In my opinion this traditional dropdown menu date picker is easier to use:

enter image description here

than this calendar-type, which is more prevalent these days:

enter image description here

Reason is, if I want to enter a birth date or a date that is several years far away, using the calendar-type just takes too long.

What is the general consensus of UX experts regarding this? Which one is better, traditional dropdown or calendar-type?

  • 1
    Does ux.stackexchange.com/questions/49741/… help you? And wrt using the calendar-type just takes too long how are you using them? Most calendar widgets will let you zoom out if you click on the header, making them comparable in speed to dropdowns. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 11:24
  • 1
    Am not UX expert, but feel the answer is based on context. Like you said, for birthdays I would suggest 1st. For start-date or end-dates which is closer to today, I prefer second option.
    – codetiger
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 12:19

3 Answers 3


This is a bit of a "Apples to Toboggans" comparison.

Your first date picker with individual year, month/day/year selections is functional and will let you pick any potential date. (We can't tell from the screenshot but I'm going to presume you can't pick Feb 31st... e.g. there's some logic to filter the options to ensure validity)

In a typical scenario you would click 3 times to "open" each dropdown, scroll if needed (days/years) to find the item you want, and click again (3 times) to select.

Option 2 is to have a visual calendar. The one you've shown (IMHO) is incomplete. I'd prefer one where the Month and Year values are dropdowns themselves so that you can quickly scan back to 19XX to select a birthday year and/or to jump to say February.

e.g. enter image description here

I'd also prefer to have a "Today" button available for the times I'm editing a date and want to "reset" to today.

The added benefit of the visual calendar is that I can easily see what "next Wednesday" or "last Monday" is without having to do any mental calculations (esp. if today is highlighted on the calendar).

The ultimate in my opinion is to have a text field that I can free type into (with validation of course), but with a dropdown visual calendar that I can (if I choose) freely select from.

This all said, the nice feature in a drop down (wherever used) is that you can type the first letter in the focused field to select... so "D" in the month dropdown will auto-select December.


Which one is better

The one that fits the needs of the particular date better.

Context is everything.

If only the numeric date is important, your first option is nice. If understanding the particular day-of-the week is important, the calendar is nice.


I assume it depends. Both version have pros and cons and you have to weight them to see which one fits better to your task.

For typing in a birthday, the first version is better because you think in terms of month/day/year, the date is far away from the current date and you don't really care about the day of the week.

For scheduling a meeting sometime next month, the second version is better. The next month is only one click away, it's easy to count the weeks because of the grid layout and you can choose the day of the week based on your personal schedule (e.g. Tuesdays you have that thing with your workmates, Wednesdays you usually go to the gym, so Thursday is probably a better option).

You can design a component of your own, tailored to your specific needs, or choose from the multiple alternatives already available the one that suits you the best.

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