Default Selection for Drop-Downs

11 Feb 2009 - 4:36pm
5 years ago
2 replies
866 reads
Nonie Kimpitak
2009

I'm putting together a form that contains about 20 fields. I'm
undecided as to what default selection I should display for the
drop-downs (or at least what the best practices are).

The client wants to make sure that the end-users are actively making
selections. So I have a preference as to what it should be, but I'd
love to get some feedback.

Here are my three choices (if there are others, please feel free to
suggest):

1. If there is a common selection made for a particular drop-down,
then that selection should be set as the default.

2. "Please choose..." or some form of instruction

3. Blank default

I assuming that if the drop-down is required or not, that should have
an impact as well. What default would best indicate to the user,
especially when they're confronted with a large form, that
selections "have to" be made?

Comments

11 Feb 2009 - 5:53pm
Audrey Crane
2009

I personally prefer a blank default, because it parallels the way text
fields behave when the user hasn't made a choice / filled them in
yet. It also reduces general noise in the page.

However I do sometimes also use them for hints if the category of
choice isn't clear from the label.

* is very standard for required fields, which makes it a reasonable
and obvious choice. I have seen the use of bold but never in a way
that seemed an improvement.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=38578

11 Feb 2009 - 6:38pm
Audrey Crane
2009

I personally am a fan of blanks at the top of pull-down menus for two
reasons: mirrors blank text entry fields that are still awaiting
content/selection, and reduces visual noise of text ("Select
one...") that isn't particularly helpful.

However sometimes I do put hint text in if the category isn't made
clear by the label.

* is a pretty well-established "required" indicator, so it
wouldn't be confusing. I've seen bold used lately for this but I'm
not sure it's more effective, depending on the font and how much it
looks like yelling.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=38578

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