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Currently in our application we have multiple lists of checkboxes. These lists comprise of random attributes related to a company. Each company will only perform a couple of these attributes and it is the user's job to specify which of these attributes the company will perform.

Right now I feel that from a usability perspective and even a design perspective a list of checkboxes is not the best way to go. My second option is to have a multi-value select box so that when the user starts to type there is an autocomplete box and all the user has to do is hit enter to select the value. I am not sure if either is the most usable way to go and I was curious to see what everyone else out there thought?

checkbox select box

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2 Answers 2

Is there a way of grouping some of the attributes into categories?

If so you could then either have each category have a drop down or each category could have a separate area on the form (this could be one after another, with a slightly different background colour simply bordered off from the others).

If you aren't able to group them into categories, I would sort the list alphabetically and then give each attribute some extra lineheight/padding so that its clearly readable.

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unfortunately the attributes listed and so widespread that it would be difficult to categorize them without having to many categories. –  Jason Frade Apr 17 '13 at 15:35
if thats the case, then I would alphabetize the list then give each attribute some extra lineheight/padding so that its clearly readable –  MephistonX Apr 17 '13 at 15:39
@MephistonX I've added your comment to the answer, which improves it. –  JohnGB Apr 17 '13 at 16:22
@JohnGB thankyou –  MephistonX Apr 17 '13 at 16:23
@Jason how about having broader categories if there are too many? –  uxzapper Apr 17 '13 at 22:09

In the multi-value select box users need to know how to write the attribute. If your system users know this information, it can be a good option, but if there's some ambiguity in which attributes are avaiable or how are they written, I think another approximation would be better.

If you feel that there are too many attributes to use checkboxes, I think you could use a more familiar pattern like the two lists selection: one list has all the attributes available (that can be filtered, searched, etc.) and another list contains selected attributes. Users can select one or more attributes from the first list and add them to the second one.

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