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I am developing an application where the user will have to acquire a lot of data records. Each such record will represent a person. The user can choose between 2 different types of persons to add and while they share some attributes like 'name' etc, there are other features that differ. The data must be searchable, too.

I can think of 3 different UI's to implement this:

1 - Completely separated entities

I could offer 2 different pages, each holding a form tailored to the specific type of data to add.

Pro

Clearly distinct areas eliminate almost all chances of making mistakes

Contra

When adding multiple records of different types, the user is forced to do more navigation


2 - Tab separated

I could offer a single page that utilizes a tab navigation.

Pro

A single source of adding data.

Contra

Since there must be an option to search the data, the UI could get slightly complex.


3 - Multi purpose form

I could offer a single page with a single form for either adding records or finding them. The user would have to select the desired type of record.

Pro

A single source of adding data with a straightforward UI.

Contra

The user may forget to switch the record type or it might not be clear that this is needed


I would say that my pros & cons for each variant are pretty weak.

How can I decide for one?

  • How long/complex is the form(s) for adding a record? Similarly, how long/complex is the search form? – Matt Obee Jan 28 '15 at 10:12
  • There are 5 fields of data for type A and 7 fields for type B. I wish to implement a dynamic search that takes just a single keyword and searches each field for a match. – Wottensprels Jan 28 '15 at 10:15
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I think I would want to try and keep this on one page so that it's quick and easy to add lots of people in sequence. I would also want to have a single form for creating people of both types, bearing in mind many of the fields are shared. I would however want to keep the forms for creating and searching very separate to avoid confusion.

Perhaps something like this:

Show the combined list of records with a search form above. Above this, have a call-to-action to 'Add person...'

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After clicking 'Add person...', the form expands at the top of the page. The first question in the form prompts the user to specify which type of person they are creating and this determine which fields appear below.

enter image description here

After adding a person, the new record appears in the list below. It's then very quick and easy for the user to repeat that process and add the next person.

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