List most-used choices at the top of the drop-down menu
When searching on a drop-down menu, web visitors should either:
- Start at the top and move linearly down to the bottom of the menu (EPIC model)
- Randomly search the menu (ACT-R model)
Or so say classic models of cognitive processing.
How visitors view drop-down menus
In reality, web visitors do neither. Instead, they take four steps when looking at drop-down menus:
- Visually “sweep” the menu (Altonen, Hyrskyvari, and Raiha 1998, 137)
- View the first menu item or two
- Glance at items on the bottom of the menu
- Look at the middle of the menu (Byrne and colleagues 1999)
How to organize drop-down menus
How can you take advantage of this research?
- Put the most-used items at the top of the menu.
- Place the second most-used items at the bottom of the menu.
- Sandwich lesser used items in the middle.
Sources: Lynne Cooke, “Eye Tracking: How It Works and How It Relates to Usability,” Technical Communication, Vol. 52, No. 4, Nov. 2005, pp. 456-463