I'm trying to develop a system where users can add financial symbols to activities, almost as you would tags to a blog post. The user should be able to easily add or remove symbols. They can add as many as they like.

We're dealing with a large amount of symbols here (hundreds of them), so I thought a two list selection ui would work well, with a search bar at the top of the left list. This way users can search for their symbols easily and add them or remove them from the same UI.

This UI is supposed to work on an iPad. Here's a desktop example (forget the up/down buttons): enter image description here

Several of my team question this interface being used on an iPad, because they've not seen it used on mobile before and they fear it is too complex for mobile.

  1. Does us implementing this control on iPad when it's not been done before make it a bad UI decision?
  2. What do you think about using this control, or what alternatives would you suggest, if you don't think it should be used?

2 Answers 2


Just because it's not common doesn't make it a bad idea. It goes without saying that you would need to test it with your target audience, but I seems like a sound idea in principle.

I would be more inclined to use drag and drop instead of using the < and > buttons, however this may be audience specific. It would be more like a touch interface though.

Additionally, I would watch out for the << and >> buttons. I take it that they clear all and add all respectively. If someone spends a lot of time adding symbols but accidentally can clear them with a single miss tap, you are going to get a lot of frustrated customers. I would rather use a clear selection button and an add all button which are away from where they are likely to be accidentally tapped. However I don't see a use case for add all, so I would question the need for that in the first place.

  • You're right, the UI would have to be modified for touch. I was thinking just tapping on an item would move it to the added pane, and another tap would remove it. Perhaps there would be icons indicating the actions that would happen on tap, or a shot explanation sentence, since it is a new UI to mobile.
    – Henry
    Dec 14, 2012 at 17:58

Assuming that the order of selected items doesn't matter (since you said to forget the up/down buttons and that the items being selected are comparable to tags on a blog post), I believe that iOS already has a widget that serves a practically identical purpose: a single list with selectable items.

An example of selecting items in iOS

  • That UI doesn't work well when you have hundreds of options (possibly thousands). It would take forever to modify or find the symbols I'm looking for. You could add a search bar, but then you have to search for every symbol you may want to remove, and there's no easy way to see all the symbols you've added.
    – Henry
    Dec 14, 2012 at 17:57
  • 2
    No UI works well when you have hundreds of options, let alone thousands... the goal to UI design is to simplify the task, but if the problem lies with the content or logic you have to deal with, then it goes beyond UI design alone.
    – Michael Lai
    Jul 20, 2014 at 22:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.