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In a program with users spanning from basic users with limited knowledge to super users with specific needs and detailed knowledge, we need to offer the option to select and deselect among elements out of a group of 15-50 elements.

Most users will not know the meanings of the choices and will just need all of them selected. I'm not sure if it's optimal for them to see all the options (it's basically a bunch of company names - will they be impressed or intimidated?) or to have to click on something like "specify which companies to include" that then shows the options.

Or is there some sort of hybrid approach where the size of the options are indicated ("cards" that show first option and indicate depth of stack?) that can then be expanded to show all options (stack of cards is laid out into grid) when desired?

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To be clear, will they only be selecting one from the list or can multiple answers be selected? –  Voodoo May 7 '12 at 22:13
    
They can select multiple. –  Holly May 9 '12 at 16:31

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I usually prefer users to see just what they need to see (the simplest the better), and only give them deeper options when they need them. Eyal's solution is very good, but if we are talking about 50 companies then it would be a bit overcrowded. Another option for me would be:

Companies > (combo) All

-link- Show advanced options

OK

And when you click in Advanced Options (or something like that), display the Companies with an accordion animation, for example.

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+1 except I would give the link a more meaningful text. "Select specific companies" for example. –  Marjan Venema May 8 '12 at 7:56
    
Yes, the text was just an example but "Select specific companies" sounds perfect! –  Yisela May 8 '12 at 21:08
    
Good ideas! Or maybe "Refine company selection". –  Holly May 9 '12 at 16:26

I'm not sure I got it right, but it seems like you you're looking for something like this:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

The basic users will probably trust your default settings if they don't know what it means.

There's a nice story that shows it here: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2011/09/14/do-users-change-their-settings/

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I think the drop-down just adds confusion seeing as there is an "All" link at the bottom of the form. –  Daniel Imms May 8 '12 at 0:57
    
Yeah, I do imagine the user will trust my default settings. My concern with the approach above is that by requirement the app is already full of settings and options and anywhere that it's reasonable to, I'd prefer to refrain from showing a massive list of names unless more people than not will be impressed rather than confused. I'd actually take your story in the link to suggest most of them wouldn't care to know the details because they'll trust us to have the right selections. –  Holly May 9 '12 at 16:30

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