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I am working on a project that involves a wizard-type form workflow. In one part of the process, our system will return items we found for the user. The user will then need to provide details about each item before continuing.

Approach 1

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1. List of items screen - User is shown a (checkbox) list of existing items (typically <5). The user checks the relevant items they want to keep and moves on.

2. Details screen(s) - For each item selected, there is a corresponding detail screen to follow. Example: user selects 2 of 3 items.

  • Item 1 details input screen
  • Item 2 details input screen

3. Summary screen - shows a summary of the 2 items the user chose with a link to edit details or delete item(s). The user may also manually add another item that was not returned among the initial results before continuing.

Approach 2

After speaking with the developer, they recommended using checkboxes to navigate to the details screens so the full list of items could always be accessed; a combination of List of items screen + Summary screen.

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1. Summary screen - User is shown a (checkbox) list of existing items. The user would check the relevant item(s) they want to keep.

2. Details screen - When Item 1 is checked, the user is immediately taken to the Item 1 Details screen to input details.

3. Summary screen - Once Item 1 Details screen is complete, the changes are saved, and the user is taken back to the Summary screen. That checked Item 1 now has an edit link visible so the user can return to the Item 1 details screen. The user may also manually add another item that was not returned among the initial results before continuing. (Unchecking the item would discard the details, and hide the edit link)

Concerns with Approach 2:

  • Checkbox has multiple functions. The checkbox serves as both a navigation element and an editing mechanism when checked.
  • Checkboxes are not generally recognized or leveraged as navigational elements. As a user, I would not expect a checkbox to refresh my view or otherwise transport me anywhere. Not traumatizing, but a little unexpected.
  • Irrelevant content remains on screen. The developer's primary criticism of Approach 1 was that the user could not add another item from the initial results. However, my position is that a.) the user has made a conscious choice to omit a result by not checking it (winnowing) and b.) they are able to manually add an item from the summary screen.
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  • How many details will be shown? Are those just sub-items of the main items or explanatory details? Sep 5, 2021 at 18:20
  • @jonvyltra It can vary. But an ITEM detail screen will have 5-10 input fields. The input fields represent properties of the respective ITEM.
    – shoverian
    Sep 17, 2021 at 16:19

1 Answer 1

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As you wrote:

Checkboxes are not generally recognized or leveraged as navigational elements. As a user, I would not expect a checkbox to refresh my view or otherwise transport me anywhere. Not traumatizing, but a little unexpected.

This is a very good reason to not use Approach 2.

EDIT: What about the checkbox expanding the details needed from the user? In form of an accordion-like layout.

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  • Thanks for the suggestion. I appreciate the additional input. The accordion(s) aren't a bad plan. The details screen would have 5-10 inputs per item. If you would imagine 2 items x 10 inputs, there could be up to 20 fields visible on the screen. This begins to open up concerns about scroll distance on mobile.
    – shoverian
    Sep 17, 2021 at 16:31

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