I have the following scenario:

  • User needs to search for some terms in a database
  • The resulting terms can be "collected" and then exported
  • Some users, before collecting new terms, can compare with the already collected.

The nature of the terms is not relevant, I would like to focus on the "collecting" or "starring" or "targeting" specific terms.

It's an interface that allows the users to search for terms and browse a database. The interesting results can be picked and stored in a collection of interesting terms.

One idea could be to display, below the results table, an extra table with the collected items. In this case the user could consult any time the metrics that come with the items.

Another idea could be to display the items in an extra sidebar.

..Or another idea could be to display the collected items like Gmail is doing with the "Starred" emails (eg: Starred (13) ).

I am now prototyping and wireframing some concepts that will be tested with the users, and I am out of ideas. Is there any solution you would like to share with me?

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  • Your wireframe shows a radio button next to each term, suggesting that I can only select one at a time. I assume it should in fact be possible to select multiple?
    – Matt Obee
    Oct 19 '12 at 15:14

Take a break and look elsewhere. I suggest doing some research in some different area entirely, but that also needs to collect items from different tables.

One such example might be picking tracks for playlists on music applications. Album track listings are tables. Tracks are your collectable items. Playlists or 'current songs' are your collections. Not many people have a problem with music apps. Why? Because they relate the action to what they are trying to do. It's clear and it's natural and there's good feedback. Duplicate that feeling.

Here's a view from Grooveshark.com below. The discrete but clear icons allow you to play (add to current songs collection), but of course double-click (as you should expect) also happens to do the same job as an easy shortcut once users learn it.

You can obviously strip out the stuff you don't care about, but the parallels are clear and there's plenty of inspiration to be derived from the way different apps do the same job. Although you'll probably find there's not a lot of difference between them when it boils down to it.

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A simple and straightforward UI.
Like, splitting the screen in two parts, one for searching and the other for collecting.
As nowadays screens tend to be wide, both parts can have good sizes.
In such a UI the user searches on the left hand side and drags the chosen items into the right one.
Or, selects items and clicks a button with an arrow to collect then into the right hand side container.
If you go the DnD way, the collected items can be rearranged by dragging them up or down.
And of course, they can be un-collected using the same action type that collected them.

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