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I've been tasked with the following.

  1. Review organization of search facets at left.
  2. we have an issue where certain facets have >10 options and can have N options
  3. define/design a new UI/UX to handle the various cases (for example, Groups could have 3 results, 20 results, or 400 results)

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this but I'm having one hell of a time grasping this. Am i missing something here. Any insight would be wonderful.

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NewEgg has a good solution for at least part of this problem. They created some range sliders that are used for multiple purposes...

enter image description here

You could certainly use that for the ratings filter.

The other thought is to hide the options for which there are 0 matches, such as the top 3 options of "resource type".

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I suggest the following rules for the check-box filters:

  1. No need for "Show All" option. Instead, add a "clear selections" link under the facet's label whenever 1 or more options are selected.
  2. Sort the options in each facet by their number of results.
  3. Don't show options that have 0 results.
  4. Show up to 3-5 options for each facet, and a "show more options" link that either shows the rest of the options in place or in a new modal window.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

In addition, following Steve Wortham's suggestion - display range facets as a double slider controller (eg. Ratings).

I think this should give you a good start. Try this layout, test with 2-3 users and iterate.

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The problem here is that you are trying to provide all options at an equal priority to anybody using the system, whereas you need to be flexible as to the individual interests of the user.

With this in mind, it's worth looking at the mspace demo (Use the Try Demo button at the top right) which uses a customizable Miller Column interaction style. It has some very interesting things going on. I like the ability to add/remove/reorder columns and drag in a new facet to the columns, and really tailor it to the way I want to search. The Back Highlighting feature is nice too.

enter image description here

Combining data visualisation and faceted search is an interesting development - via the concept of Elastic Lists. Interesting because they provide a visual representation of the weight that a facet carries in relation to the size of the data set, as well as other characteristics which help the sensemaking process of wading through large amounts of data.

Choose higher default options that are more likely to eliminate the most options.

The option to easily revisit a search path for future use or to share may be important so take that into account.

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