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I am working on a technical application, used in the industry. I have been asked to redesign the GUI for it, but I am having trouble. The program is basically just a way to set the values for a large amount of options.

The way it is done at the moment is rather ugly to look at. The program has a hierarchy system, like in Windows Explorer, so you can select the options that relate to specific settings. Once you select a category, you are shown a list of settings for it. Each setting either has:

  • A checkbox
  • A combobox with unique selection
  • A combobox where every option has a checkbox, so you can select multiple possible values

A quick mock-up to show what I mean, roughly:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Some categories have only one type of input, others have multiple, or even all, types of inputs. Unlike in the mock up above, everything is vertically aligned, with columns defined at the top of the panel.

What was done to alleviate some of the issues is putting all the checkboxes into a massive matrix, a list of about 100 settings, each with 16 possible values. It is kind of clumsy to use, but better than having to manually go into each category and changing it separately.

I have been trying to think of ways to ease the cognitive load of the user, and trying to streamlining the UI into something easier to use. There are already a couple of design choices that help to make it a bit more bearable (like hiding options that are not editable for that particular product).

Is there any technique that is useful to deal with such a large and varied group of options?

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The key is to identify the filters that would be used most often maybe 80-90% of the time.Once you have the list,try to prioritize the display to throw those on the UI and use a modal window to show any additional filters ( for eg search anything on retail store sites,they show the key filter to the left and have a show more option that display a wider set of filters. Enhancing the UX would be all about how well you know the user of this screen and reduce him the pain for atleast 80% of the time he/she uses this interface through a thorough research on the most used filter criterias.

  • Yeah, I ended up reaching this conclusion... although in a differently way. I decided to implement a customizable view, so you can hide/show/group settings as needed for their situation. – MKII Mar 10 '16 at 12:49

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