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What alternatives are there to doing nested tree checkboxes with hundred+ options? When theres over a hundred options, it gets a bit tough to make it a select with autocomplete. What other alternatives are there that are user friendly?

For example:

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Actually, I would argue that there is no simple way to make an arbitrary number of choices from a very large list of options, but this is how you might think about tackling the problem and helping to find a solution. Not surprisingly, the answer will come from testing it out with the users and understanding the context of usage.

Problem 1: arbitrary number of choices There are two possible scenarios here, either the user knows how many selections they need to make or they are looking for options. Depending on how many choices they need to filter through to find something, you can help make this easier by:

  • Grouping so that they go to the right 'bucket', as you have done by grouping the counties in the states, and the states within countries.
  • Ordering so that they go to the right 'end' of the list, as you have done by alphabetically ordering the countries, states and counties.
  • Allowing free search to skip right to the exact item that they are looking for.

And if they don't know how many choices they need to make, you can help them come to the decision easier by:

  • Grouping so that they know how many categories and subcategories they need to go through
  • Ordering so that they know how long the list that they have to go through is
  • Allowing smart searches so you can provide suggestions based on their search results.

Problem 2: large list of items This one is hard to get around because it is never easy to make things simple when the contents you need to show is very large and/or complicated. My approach is generally to try and reflect the nature of the information in your presentation, and there are a number of strategies you can consider:

  • If it is geographical in nature, see if it can work with a map so you can actually select things near each other or far apart quickly.

  • You can also use the standard alphabetical listing that people are familiar with, and then provide extra groupings to make it easier to find (e.g. continents or regions on top of countries as groupings), but this is a trade-off to having to do an extra click.

  • You can consider the desktop and mobile view of the design and whether you want to customize or keep it consistent, in which case you are more limited because the component has to work for touch as well as mouse clicks easily.

  • You can consider helping the user reduce the list to a smaller size before they even start to make a selection.

Ultimately it comes down to the type of task they have to perform, but you have a number of strategies that can be combined in different ways to achieve the right balance if you are not able to find the perfect solution. But try to isolate and find the problem in the process first, then you'll be able to work out the optimal design given the constraints.

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