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I am working on a design to allow users to set their preferences in terms of product themes/topics; this functionality will sit within a profile area where users provide other types of information.The idea is that next time users login; we will be able to offer them a more personalized experience based on topics they have selected.

The few times I have encountered this type of settings, checkboxes where used, these will definitely get the job done but I would like to create a UI that is more playful and distance the user from form filling interactions. So I have few questions:

1- Are there any interaction patterns that could replace checkboxes in this particular context? Bearing in mind that I have a bit of text that explains the content of each topic.

2- Once users have made their choices do they still need to view all the other options they haven’t opted for? Or is it better to hide them behind a show all option to declutter.

3- Is there any research / best practices around this area? or have you had experience dealing with the same issue?

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It's going to depend what data you have about the user and about the objects, but here are a few ideas:

1 - Interaction Patterns

Drag & drop - A column for "I'm interested in...", a column for "I have no preference either way" and a column for "I'd rather avoid". A bunch of draggable tags start out in the middle column and can be dragged into the side columns to express preferences.

Sliding scale - It's not always binary. Rather than a checkbox, give a slider with "never", "rarely", "sometimes", "usually", "always".

2 - Showing or hiding options

How often do you expect these options to change? Either way, changing them shouldn't be an obstacle course, because if there's a bunch of them I'd expect there to be a bit of churn early on whilst the user works them out. If they have to keep hiding or unhiding them, it'll get old fast.

If they don't need to change them often, then hide them away but make sure there's a clear affordance to show them again or edit them. If they're likely to be adjusted regularly as part of normal usage then hiding them seems a less sensible option.

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