I'm designing an internal application with huge 3 level deep tree structure (attached below) with more than 30+ menus(on first level). The basis operation is select menu item/s.

In case if a user select a parent, all children will be selected by default, however, deselection, customization of selection is permissible.

What I'm thinking to improve the below structure

1: Adding Miller column but since my user are old window user, not sure how much comfortable they would be. Even if it easy , would it be a good idea to add it with real estate restriction. The image below is just a part of a big form.

2: Tag based searching and selection process but since tags are independent with each other, I really don't know if it is a good idea. Other disadvantage is tags will take lots of space.

3: There is no search feature, that can be added to make it more usable. Is there any other suggestion to improve/change feature.

PS: I've blurred the actual content due to privacy, However, I'm sure you know what i'm looking for.

enter image description here

  • Could you specify: How many items are people supposed to select? Can you illustrate (imagers, symbols...) categories or items? How varied are the items - ie Department store items against Music folder kind ? Feb 12, 2015 at 14:38
  • User can select as many as they wants... List includes categories of various medical categories like Ortho, Neuroscience etc And it also has sub categories like for Ortho it could be back pain, artheritis etc..
    – UXbychoice
    Feb 19, 2015 at 8:36
  • This more recent question may help: ux.stackexchange.com/a/74811/62445
    – tohster
    Mar 14, 2015 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


I would go with option 3, that is to add a search feature to the tree table. Here are couple of suggestions for implementing it:

  1. Add a search field right on top of the tree. As the users start typing in the search field you could filter the tree to show only relevant items in the tree. The users can then select whatever they need from the shortlisted items. If you think your users might not like to see the tree getting refreshed in real time as they type in the search term, you can provide a search button or icon which the users can click after they are done with typing the search term. This would result in the display of the shortlisted items in the tree.
  2. Another way is to provide the same search field on top of the tree along with a search button or icon. The users can type in the search term and then click on the search button or icon. This would open a new popup showing the shortlisted items. The users can then select the desired item and click go or ok button on the popup. This will close the popup and the appropriate item would get selected or focussed in the tree.

I have found option 1 with the real time refresh of tree items to work well with users who are well versed to work with computers. While the approach to display the shortlisted items on clicking the search button to work well for people who are not so good at using computers, people who are bit aged and who do not spend too much time using computers.

I have seen option 2 being used in some applications but I am not too convinced that it can be helpful.

I will refrain from using the Miller column pattern because as you rightly pointed out not all users are accustomed to it, specifically windows users. Plus it takes too much of horizontal space.

As for using Tags for tree items, Tags are usually applied to objects in the application to classify them into something. Unless your tree items are objects that are created within your application, tags might not serve any purpose.

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