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I'm making a mobile app for searching an extremely large dataset (trademarks) that have each been tagged in one or more of 45 categories. (E.g., "Budweiser" might be tagged in both clothing (t-shirts), and beer.)

I'm not sure how to best design the UI for the user to create a "filter" of a set of categories.

My thinking is that I should create a display that allows the user to select multiple categories, and re-run a search. So far, I'm thinking of using a table/list, where each item is actually a toggle-state which persists automatically. Here, Clothing and Cosmetics has been selected. This solution feels clunky, and I'm unsure what to call this screen.

Does anyone know of any good solutions for this kind of UI/UX challenge?


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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If the "one category filter" is most common, and multi-category filters are rare, you could optimize for that. Schematically:

Filter categories:
   Clothing       >
   Cosmetics      >
   Add another... >

The advantage is that in common cases of small numbers of filters, it's very easy to see the 1 or 2 filters which are selected without scrolling.

For an example of this, see the iPhone UI under Settings>General>International>Keyboards

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Awesome. That's just what I was looking for. I wanted to see how another app has handled this. Interesting that it uses a table, not a picker, to display the available choices. (?) BTW, I clicked once too many times on the answer up-arrow and not can't upvote you until you edit your answer. – Dogweather Mar 29 '11 at 23:24

I'm not sure what you mean by clunky, but I think that with 45 items you're going to have too much scrolling here. Since the items need to be large enough to press, you can't really reduce the height, but maybe you can do something about the width. How about using a grid of icons with labels?

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Thanks - that's an interesting idea. I'll think about that for the next version. (I'd need to come up with 45 icons!) – Dogweather Mar 29 '11 at 23:26

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