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Use case: User wants to find employees from a list based on some criteria. To simplify things let's say it is spoken language attribute only. Case 1: user wants to find person speaking multilingual - every selected language. Case 2: user wants to find person speaking any of selected languages.

What is best way to select languages covering both cases? For common user knowledge of boolean algebra is not expected.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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I would expect most (if not all) users to understand "and" and "or" operators even if they don't know it's Boolean logic. The conditions translate to natural language:

I want to find all users that speak French and German.

I want to find all users that speak English or Norwegian.

So you can simply display the words "and" and "or" in your UI when the user selects the "add a new condition" option.

Given your mockup this could be implemented by having a radio button (or perhaps a combo) in the languages section that has the values "any" and "all" rather than "or" and "and":

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

and a similar one for skills.

  • See my mockup: current "query" allows to select one or more attributes. It is uncertain, whether filtered employees have any (or) or all (and) attributes. In other words, I can cover (and document + educate users) either case 1, or case 2. I want users to choose which case to use for every attribute. Your suggestion, if I undesrtand correctly, is to add another radio button with and/or options. Isn't it right? – Frantisek Kossuth May 3 '12 at 10:37
  • @FrantisekKossuth - I'll update the answer given your mockup. – ChrisF May 3 '12 at 10:54
  • I think this suggestion is good, though I'd probably not use a dropdown here but exclusive buttons to select Any or All. That saves a click, and makes it easier to spot the available options. – André May 3 '12 at 14:38
  • @André Possibly a segmented control? This would allow the buttons/actions to be grouped nicely, will still allowing visibility into both distinct options unlike with a dropdown. – GotDibbs May 3 '12 at 17:51
  • @GotDibbs - the problem with segmented control (or state buttons) AND one/two options is to identify, which control/highlight means active value. For three+ values it is the "different" one, but for one or two values it is uncertain, what value is selected. Therefore I don't like that control :-) – Frantisek Kossuth May 4 '12 at 7:20
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You can allow users to specify "all" or "any" and then select the languages. I've seen technical neophytes get that wtihout trouble, though my evidence is anecdotal (relatives), not formal (studies).

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