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What's the best experience to do the following:

The user will insert a new subject(text) only if it isn't in the existing list. So, it will be added to the existing list for all users.

I have implemented this with the following sequence:

Form field - text input field with drop down arrow

If the user can't find the subject, then they click on the plus (+) button:

Added new text input field with no drop down

After typing in the new field, clicking the plus (+) button will add it to the list and select it.

Is there a better method to do this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The most common implementation of such a feature which I see everyday is the tagging system. As you continue typing, the ajax search is on and you can see results popping up.

Img 1: You can select from the results or type in the entire thing.

Img 2: Or, you can add your own tag in a similar manner and it will accept the tag and add it in the system for anyone to use.

Img 1: enter image description here

Img 2:

enter image description here

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By adding the + sign, it is counter intuitive as the user would have to click the drop down, read through the options and determine none of the options listed apply. Then click the + and provide the value.

I would suggest adding a 'Other' or 'add new' entry in the drop down list. This would mean that the user would scan the list of drop down items, find that none apply and select the 'Other'/'Add new' entry.

When this value is selected, then the text box is made visible and given focus allowing the users to provide the value details.

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Other/add new is definitely good, this could be useful when selecting from a drop down, or when typing something in, as the drop down could display search matches, with the top match being Create "your_search_entry". –  ekinnear May 23 '13 at 18:27

I would use a drop down with auto-correct showing the existing alternatives, while the user is typing - and they could select from that drop down or create their own... depending how much you want them to pay attention to first trying to select an existing alternative.

I like the tagging idea from RK as well

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