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Please suggest me how I would able to simplify selection of vehicle by six parameters: Manufacturer, Year, Model, Transmission, Engine, Drive.

Currently we are using six cascading dropdowns aligned into two rows and three columns.

[ Manufacturers ] [ Year ] [ Model ]
[ Transmission]  [ Engine ] [ Drive ]

BUT this layout has significant disadvantage: When user starts select a vehicle he cannot determine an order; Manufacturer->Transmission->..., Manufacturer->Year-> or something else.

He will able tumble to only when try to select first item, of course in case when others five dropdowns are disabled then it would help in understanding an order of selection. From the other hand, when user tries to edit a selected vehicle then an order is not clear, because all controls are allowed to change.

Ok, if all controls will at the single line then it would be more clear, but it requires much more space to display selection.

[ Manufacturers ] [ Year ] [ Model ] [ Transmission]  [ Engine ] [ Drive ]

The same situation if controls would displayed vertically.

[ Manufacturers ]
[ Year ]
[ Model ]
[ Transmission] 
[ Engine ]
[ Drive ]

The situation is complicated by the fact that each control has a field to display an error message, that requires much more space.

The another approach that I have tried this is use a tree

[-][Manufacturer_1]
   [+][ Year_1 ]
[+][Manufacturer_2]

But a tree is not so friendly for touch devices, like iPad

Right now, I'm thinking about type suggestion, but the most hard thing is how user will know about an order? "Chrysler 2010 Automatic"... Or "2010 Chrysler 4CYL"?

Please, suggest me how I can solve it; The my goal is to show as many items as possible in clear order in both cases: when a user starts selection and when he changes selection;

I will welcome any suggestions and comments. Thanks

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What is the purpose of the site? Will users be searching for a particular car (eg Ford Orion from 1987) or a particular type of car (eg convertible with 240bhp engine)? –  Andrew Leach Jul 8 '13 at 7:26
    
How many options does Transmission, Engine and Drive have? I am sure Manufacturers, Year and Model has many. right? –  nashmaniac Jul 8 '13 at 8:26
    
Dmitry, is order (Manufacturer, Year, Model, ...) important in selection process? –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 8 '13 at 8:33
    
Also it seems all of your parameters are mandatory, but what if the user don't know or don't care of some of them? Please could you describe your task more widely? –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 8 '13 at 12:59
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2 Answers 2

It totally depends on the bigger picture of the project, but I would suggest making a wizard out of it:

Step 1: Model identification - kind of a wizard.

Step 1a: [ Manufacturers ]

Try to put it as an initial step, a page before user goes to the selection. Of course only if user will not need to switch often between these.

Step 1b: [ Model ]

I think it's better to have it here. The same names of models appear through the years, so users will end up with a list of a dozen or two of models.

Step 1c: [ Year ]

Presenting it here will let limit this list only to years in which particular model (in various editions) was produced.

Step 2: Technical stuff - these can be presented side by side.

[ Transmission ]

For transmission - I believe there is quite limited number of options available (manual, automatic, semi-automatic? I am not a big fan of cars). So this could be a simple radio selection. For older models, only manual will be available, so this should be preselected.

[ Engine ]

I believe it's the volume, so also only several options should be available for a model produced in specific year.

[ Drive ]

I don't know how much data will be here, but it should be constructed in a very similar way to Engine, I think.

Let me know if it helps.

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You can display a single dropdown that gets filled dynamically as the user selects the attributes. You should then display the user selection, as well. GUI for 6 list boxes

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