I am working on a web application and the advanced search goes through a number of records and returns them for the user. There are fields and filters that are specific to the item type. Currently These items are disabled until the user selects the item type but this seems to be confusing the users. The rationale is that if they are searching by a specific type of item then the search should be limited to those types. There are a couple of use cases where a user would be searching for multiple item types but also filter within those types to get a list of all those items.


  1. Should the subset fields (below "Type C name, Type B/C subsets) be disabled?
  2. Are the cues I can give the user to help them understand that the selection triggers the behavior of the other fields?
  3. Is there a better way to accomplish this?

Advanced Search Layout

  • 1
    I wonder if you could use dynamic scripting to just remove fields all together instead of just disabling them, and updating them if they should be there rather than disabling things. It would be less confusing for users since they wouldn't have to see irrelevant information at all. May 14, 2014 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


One way to approach the problem is to guide the user through the process. This means step-by-step.

For example, you might hide all disabled fields such that the user has to select a type in order for the type subsets to show up. This has multiple advantages:

  • Avoiding confusion about which field to interact with first
  • Reducing clutter in the interface.

Any online checkout process would be a great example of a step-by-step approach to form filling.

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.