Our app requires us to allow users to created their own hierarchical groups, then associate documents with those groups.

In my opinion the biggest usability concern is that users also need to be able to select a parent node without necessarily selecting the child nodes.

Here's an example. You've created a group, "United States" added a bunch of US employees. You've now created a subgroup for "Vampires." You want to upload a sunlight policy for your US employees, but do NOT want it associated with the "vampires."

Below is the best solution we have so far, but it seems inelegant. I'm not sure that if a user was uploading something they wanted to go to ALL US employees (vampires included) they'd know they had to select all United States options.

We tried making a duplicate option for parent nodes (so if there are children there is suddenly a US GROUP node and a US FOLDER node), but it was even more confusing - why were there TWO US's

Thanks so much for your UX guru wisdom.

nested multi-select menu

  • at the very least you need to indent the children, you need to also make it clear that selecting does/doesn't select all of the children. Add some color tints to help distinguish between the different groups. Jan 25, 2019 at 17:28
  • Those are good ideas. We also thought about making it so checking a parent automatically selected the children (which is probably the most common usecase) but that they could then deselect a child while the parent stays checked. Does that help or make things more confusing? Jan 25, 2019 at 19:15

1 Answer 1


I would go with this: enter image description here

This is a well established pattern and will provide all of the use cases you mentioned and it also would give the bulk selection benefits too! You can improve the look and feel to further seperate the different sections.

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