I hate long dropdowns. They’re largely unwieldy and rarely better suited than an
input field assisted with some sort of text suggestion plugin like Lea Verou’s amazing Awesomplete. This video boggles the mind. How does someone add this many options and assume the visitor won’t get overwhelmed quickly?
I understand that in this example, it’s meant to be an amusing and funny extra. The problem it highlights though is one of usability.
From the start of the registration process on this company site, we’re met with a number of items to choose from. Yes, we have the common entries up top, and everything after is just for laughs, but already, the visitor is tired. I’m tired just from looking at it and I’m just watching a video of it!
If you exhaust the visitor (even in jest) at the beginning, your chance of conversion is going to go down fast. Cognitive load goes up, especially when a list of choices are presented seriously.
Like the country list example, scrolling through dozens to even hundreds of choices exhausts the visitor. Making me scroll through all of this without assistance is terribly inefficient and tiring. Organizing dropdown items alphabetically makes it easier for someone who knows they can key in letters to try to find a match (I always hit
uni to at least get me to the United Arab Emirates), but the average visitor doesn’t know or use these keyboard shortcuts.
If you have numerous options in a drop down, I’d encourage you to start using a similar tool on your site.
Obviously, there are examples where a simple select element suffice. There are plenty of uses when a short drop down would present a relatively quick scan for the visitor, but once they start scrolling to find the right option, it becomes more and more difficult for them to process and to ultimately achieve what you are trying to get them to do on your site.
Helping the visitor wade through a large number of options is a relatively simple process, and one that provides plenty of benefits for the site owner.