It is common to allow a user to compare two or more products in a matrix that lists features/benefits down one axis and the selected products along the other. But how do you represent difference in date/time between the products?
Specifically, how would an an academic institution let a user compare programs that can be offered in more than one location at different times, or online, which can be done anytime via the web?
Say the institution offers a program in Project Management.
The program can be taken online, in class, or an online/in-class hybrid where some of the sessions are online and some meet in a classroom.
Each quarter, there are multiple instances of the program.
Here is a sample schedule to show the possible permutations:
- PM Section A, In Class, On Campus, Mon, Wed 6-9PM, Sept 24 - Oct 29
- PM Section B, Online, Web, Anytime, Sept 27 - Dec 7
- PM Section C, Hybrid, Web/Downtown, Every Other Saturday 12-3PM, Sept 24-Dec 7
The same variable schedule could apply to another program, like Business Analysis for example.
If a user selected Project Management and Business Analysis, what is the best way to allow for side-by-side comparisons of products where the properties include date/time ranges?
My Current Solution
I have faceted search which allows a user to use check box lists tied to segment, delivery method (online, in-class, hybrid), and days of week/time of day.
The idea is that from the result set, the user would be able to check one or more of the summarized results and then compare them side-by-side in a matrix:
The comparison matrix seems like it has a high cognitive load because the user has to build a calendar in their memory and input all the data in the table and then compare.
How to create that comparison visually however isn't immediately obvious.
How should that comparison be displayed?