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I'm having issues wrapping my head around an interaction. I have 5 possible tags that can be combined as follows:

  • Tag1,Tag2
  • Tag3
  • Tag4,Tag5

For these combined tags I can add items that get associated with those tags. Usually, when adding a new item, in e-commerce you define your categories ( in these case tags ), and when adding the new item you can give it a category.

What I want to achieve is a little different. I want the user to first group this tags together as listed above and then allow him to add items to each grouping as in the sketch below:

enter image description here

The problem we are trying to solve is that most of the customers have two single groupings of Tag1,Tag2 and Tag3 and maybe hundreds of items. Currently, when user adds a new item we ask them to choose the tag every single time so we are looking for a way to remove the need for the user to choose a tag each time and instead add items to the defined tags. The approach in the image seems to serve this use case but for some reason, I find it not very intuitive.

Questions: Is this a common or intuitive design pattern or both? Are there other viable ways to achieve this?

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  • What's the issue, the design or the super-category concept?
    – Danielillo
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 13:28
  • The design and interaction in which you create or delete sections and add items to each section. It's a interaction that my mind cannot validate as I cannot map it out with any existing design patterns.
    – Chris
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 14:05
  • Like in this question, when you have doubts about a design, this is often caused by missing information about users and their work flows. If you have the opportunity to find out more, especially about the preferred work flows, then you will know better how to design such thing. If there is more to share that can help in finding a better solution don't hesitate to add it to the question. There is a chance you're already on the right track but are still missing a few pieces of the puzzle.
    – jazZRo
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 8:08

4 Answers 4

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Like you mentioned, the current approach lacks intuitiveness since typical eCommerce platforms follow a different pattern, where products are added first, followed by variables such as categories.

I'm not certain if the UI you presented would be effective. I had to review it multiple times while reading your explanation and even then, I misunderstood it and wrote an entire response that was completely off track. Imagine how real users would struggle, particularly when faced with a change in the familiar approach they are accustomed to.

Therefore, I propose a completely different approach that achieves your goal while minimizing cognitive load.

To begin, start with a screen where users can select the tags they want to use for product inclusion. It's unclear to me whether these tags are fixed (e.g., tag 1 and 2 always go together) or if they can be mixed (e.g., tag 1 alone, tag 2 alone, tag 3 and 5 together, tag 1 and 4 together). Depending on this, you can employ three buttons with predefined tags or use checkboxes followed by a submit button.

Next, users will be directed to a screen where they can add only the products associated with the selected tag. Think of it as "dropping products into a basket." Additionally, include a button for "adding another product" and a link (not a button!) that reads "Add products in another category" or something similar.

I believe this approach would significantly reduce friction (though thorough testing will be necessary, of course). Just remember to prominently display text at the top of the screen explaining the category to which the products are being assigned.

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It's definitely counterintuitive, and a pattern that I haven't encountered before. I think this would increase cognitive load and input errors instead of saving users time. I'd strongly recommend staying with the previous/common pattern of adding tags to each item as you enter them.

You could also consider allowing users to "bulk upload" items by uploading a CSV. This would allow users to do the data entry in whichever spreadsheet software they're comfortable in, where they could easily copy/paste a set of categories across hundreds of item records with a single keystroke.

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So the problem is the needed user interaction? You want to reduce click-time of the user?

Assumption: It seems you effectively have 3 "Tags".

Whenever a user assigns the "Single-Tag" or one of both "Multi-Tag"s just store this assignement for the item and the next time the user adds the same item (whatever he does) just pre-select the previous assignment.

The problem you have is probably just semantics. Tags usually have a different behavior than those 3 things you explained. It looks like you are grouping your items and each item can be a member of only one group. Is this correct?

Tags are usually different. You usually can assign multiple tags to the same item.

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The problem I'm seeing here is conceptually with the term tag. Tags generally are independent and can be applied in many/any permutation. Grouping two tags feels like they are no longer tags and instead have some new combined meaning.

Considering this, it feels really like you are creating groups. Perhaps this from an IA perspective is a solution. Get the user to group the items into meaningful sections, named as they want, then apply relevant tags to those groups. This means the application of tags remains separate from the logical groupings.

I can imagine if you ever wanted to search the data on tags, with your current method it would be a nightmare, is tag1 + tag 2 different from tag 2 + tag 1? Can I use tags multiple times? can I apply all tags to all items? what is the purpose of applying a tag in your interface?

Maybe if you can be more specific about what a tag is, and what the job of a tag is in your system I could be more specific.

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