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Context
I'm working on an audience selection workflow where a user can specify certain attributes to select their audience. For example, the user may want to create an audience of entirely male demographic or say, an audience of people who use StackExchange or maybe even an audience with males who use StackExchange, are aged b/w 25-35, live in Vancouver and speak 3 languages.

The problem
The relationship between the different input fields follow specific boolean logic. For example, if the user checks both Male and Female, the result would be a cohort of people who are either Male OR Female. However, if the user selects Male, Female, Facebook, the result would be a cohort of people who are Male OR Female AND use Facebook (NOT male OR female OR facebook users) by default. However, the user, for some cases will be able to change this logic (and turn it into male OR female OR facebook users). How do I convey this boolean relation to the user in the form? This could be confusing especially because not all boolean logic/relation can be changed.

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  • Will the results be updated instantly? for instance is there a table / chart below this form of will you 'post' this form and recieve the information later? (on the next page or even a day later in an email?). – Kevin M. Mar 8 at 10:23
  • Yes, the results are updated instantly. The page has a chart on the right that updates according to the selection made. – Ashwin Nepal Mar 8 at 10:27
  • Is it also possible to add multiple locations? Ex: New York + Vancouver? – Kevin M. Mar 8 at 13:03
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Users will understand that the multiple checkboxes within a group will be OR operators otherwise the selection of two options would always give no results.

This means, that if some options are OR selections they would have to be in the same group.

In your example the problem starts with the location and vehicle make. This two options are OR selections but not in the same group. If you group them and it should be clear that it is either or.

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EDIT: To achieve that your users have the flexibility to choose the operator you could use the solution above. But let the user add a complete second (third etc.) filtering and merge the results. This would mean, that the logic of to use OR within the group and AND between the groups would remain. But with a second selection the user could change the result in any desired way, without being bothered with the 'technical' use of AND/OR. But: If you users are used to do queries like that a more technical interface might be a better choice.

  • Thanks, this is a good way to clear up some of the problems with the form. However, for some cases, the user will have the ability to change the boolean relationship (say, if they want to choose Male OR people aged 26-35). So the default relationship needs to be stated. I had missed out on this part and have updated the question. – Ashwin Nepal Mar 8 at 10:53
  • @AshwinNepal this makes it quite a bit different then. What you try to achieve is to give the user a possibility to do a complex query statement. You would probably even give the user the possibility to use parentheses something like: Give me al users ((Female AND 26-35) OR (Male AND 18-25)) OR Vancouver. – BrunoH Mar 8 at 13:14
  • @AshwinNepal I gave it another thought and just edited my answer with the 'new requirements' in your question. – BrunoH Mar 8 at 15:05
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You could try separating the act of selection from the summary, and show users the results of their choices.

Do you have some choices that could alternate within the category as booleans? If you allow changes between ONE or ANY, the controls can honor the limits of those choices. You can tailor those controls per category as makes the most sense (you may have some categories that are strictly boolean, for example).

Changing (some) of the logic

You had mentioned:

However, the user, for some cases will be able to change this logic (and turn it into male OR female OR facebook users).

Allow users to differentiate between OR (Any) and ONE and ALL at the category level. The controls can change to reflect what they can do.

If you have certain sections where the logic cannot be changed, just remove the dropdown and use text.

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  • I think it depends on the users ability to understand the AND/OR impact. I like your solution but what if i want users which are female AND use Faceboo AND Tumbler? The ONE/ANY selection in some groups can be confusion e.g. with the gender. Since there are only two options it is the same if the users says ONE or ANY an then selects only one option. But I have to ad: I didn't come up with e better solution yet. – BrunoH Mar 8 at 13:53
  • See my update: You could allow ONE, ANY, or ALL at the category level. You could control this within the categories, depending on what it is (you can control this). Without being able to define your logic up front, you have checkboxes which in some areas should be radio buttons (ONE). The summary will give them real time feedback as they go. – Mike M Mar 8 at 14:18

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