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I have a small UX challenge to tackling for an application project.

I would be interested in hearing from users and experts. Sometimes there are such obvious ideas that arise that we haven't thought of ourselves

So here is the use case.

Documents will be attached to certain types of content in a kind of custom CRM, and besides, a tagging system is planned to qualify this document and enhanced research.

Users will upload documents and then they will be able to associate them with tags:

  • type of contract
  • name of a supplier
  • document creation date
  • validity dates of the contract
  • automatic tag with of the employee who introduced it into the system (could be hidden)
  • ...

These tags are different fields: closed lists (taxonomies or others that can manager elsewhere) or date picker...

The benefit is that it will be possible to find this document if a search is carried out for all type of contracts "X" or all documents attached to suppliers "Y" or both, for example.

It becomes more complex in terms of user experience because it is possible to upload several documents at once (bulk upload). So I've already had a bit of a headache trying to find a clever and efficient way to complete the tags while managing the upload status.

The most obvious solution like I did in the past is to allow the user to upload everything in bulk first, and then list out all of the uploaded files and provide fields next to it for each one individually to complete/select tags.

I wondered if I should display everything at once because there can be more or fewer tags depending on the document category. We can sometimes imagine eight different tags for 40 files uploaded at once but wouldn't any expand system be a loss of efficiency?

It gets even more complex because sometimes the tags have to be shared for a bunch of documents. Let's take a use case. I am uploading 40 documents of a specific category, 30 of which are maps signed by the same supplier on the same date, so there is no point in tagging them individually.

I have to find a way to group them, I initially thought of doing it before the upload process, but that would mean doing the upload in two stages, asking the question: is it a grouped upload or an independent file?

The other solution is to propose check-boxes, but it is necessary to think, the tagging the solutions according to this stage.

It could be a system with a side panel, the user will have the form with the tag aside. They could select a single file in the uploaded file list and complete the tag or select multiple files at once and edit tags of all of them at once as they were one file.

As a "nice to have" feature, some users also ask about having on one side of the screen a preview of the document as a cross-reference to check information when tagging them.

I'd be interested in discussing this with you.

Many thanks

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    Not such a small UX challenge after all 😉
    – jazZRo
    Apr 22 at 15:46
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I think the best solution to this problem is actually trying to tackle the information architecture of your application and documents.

Many digital asset management systems like bynder (https://www.bynder.com/) or canto (https://www.canto.com/) will all come with built in templates for specific types of organisations or use cases, but they will all allow some level of configuration.

My experience with bynder suggests that you can build a more complicated tagging system based on a good information architecture and workflow, but you can't just rely on the user interface alone.

Therefore, if you can provide some ideas about the nature of your documents and applications that gives us an idea about the possible information architecture and types of tagging required, then you might be able to come up with a more optimized solution for the user experience and interface.

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    Thanks for the feedback! I will anonymize and share my proposal which seems to meet the needs of the customer and easy to handle after some user tests. However, some comments are always welcome in a continuous improvement process :)
    – Nicolas
    May 10 at 14:23
  • Hi @Michael,i find interesting your broader approach. What do you mean he should tackle the information architecture?He is looking for a clear way to allow multiple tagging on many files, how IA would impact that? Genuinely curious as I am working on a multiple tagging workflow myself
    – Henry R.
    Oct 10 at 10:49
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    @HenryR. basically if you make the structure of your contents simple and consistent you'll have less tags to deal with and the tagging will be much easier to apply and understand. I've tried to fix a lot of tagging systems but often you have to go back to square one and create a simple and consistent information architecture if you want to be able to develop something more complex and future-proof your work.
    – Michael Lai
    Oct 10 at 22:54
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    @MichaelLai I think that making the tagging system easy to understand is crucial. Users apply tags to different assets which belong to different folder but when they want na overview of all assets with that tag, they can only fetch them by the global search. At least that is my assumption with the info I have. users have no section where tags can be managed like folders can be.Here on UXSE you have such a section, another virtuous example is Adobe LightRoom where tags are grouped as Collections.
    – Henry R.
    Oct 11 at 9:11
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As you said providing an input field next to each file gives the user a tedious, repetitive task. Same for the check-boxes. Why not copy what is already possible on every computer, display the files as preview tiles or as a list and allow the user to make a multiple selection with their cursor by clicking the entire area of the file, not just the checkbox. To the selected ones you will be able to apply the tags.

As a feedback to the user it would be nice to see the tag UI element appear next to the file so you know that the file is now tagged. By displaying the files as tiles like in Google Drive you also meet the " nice to have" feature.

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  • Hi, That's more or less what I did in the end, after testing the prototype we put it into operation as a beta version with positive feedback from users. There are still some adjustments to be made due to development constraints to limit the call api but we are close to a very satisfactory version. I kept the checkboxes but with helpers or shorcuts to select a group of files at once, indeed a bit like in the OS
    – Nicolas
    Oct 12 at 14:17

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