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We are redesigning filters in our file search engine. Currently there are 3 options like file source, size and, date added.

We observed that many users use the same combination of filters every time they visit our service, so we want to give them a possibility to save that combination.

To make this functionality user friendly we don't want to force them to register, we want to store conditions in cookies (we are aware of the disadvantages this solution brings).

Considering that "less is more" on one side, and giving a user full control of the interface on the other, we are wondering if we should:

  • Add "Save search criteria" button
  • Just inform the user that their search criteria were saved after they hit the main filters "Apply" button.

What do you think?

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2 Answers 2

I suggest not making the change at all. Here's why:

The affordance you are trying to provide could cause more confusion than help. Since you have small number of filters, giving the repeat users more help to "not have to" set the filters to their liking every time is a nice thought, but weigh this against this user data:

• how long does setting the filters take

• are people repeatedly complaining about the filters being cleared every time they visit

Also, if you do not display the active filters all the time, then saving filter settings can cause your user some confusion (i.e., "why am I not seeing results?... Oh, there are some old filters on.")

If its true that registered users get to save their filter settings, then there is no good reason to go down this path – having incentive to register is good for your company. Consider a popout that says "Save your filter settings - Register today"

If you decide to go through with the change, the relative effectiveness of the two ui's could be found by an A/B test. But consider that the change your proposing may not be worth the effort, considering the conundrum you've run into.

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2  
I like that you brought up the "register today" approach to save your filters. As a follow-up, how many people are returning to search again using the same filters without registering? I agree that this may not be worth the effort unless there is a use case or user base that we're not aware of in the context of this question. –  discorax Mar 27 at 17:26
    
+1 because of the mention of added confusion with added functionality –  Pdxd Mar 27 at 20:37

There are two issues here:

  1. What notification is necessary for the use of the feature?
  2. Do you feel an obligation to notify the user that you are using cookies and/or give them the option not to have information saved?

With regard to the first point, actually no notification is needed for the user to use this feature. It is adequate for the site to simply remember the settings without telling the user it did so.

So it all comes down to the second: do you have a legal or moral obligation to inform the user about cookies, and possibly let them opt out? If your answer is yes, then you should use a "save settings" button.

Note that in some jurisdictions (notably, the European Union) your site is legally required to let the user know about cookies. In other locations, many sites use cookies without notifying the user. You will need a lawyer to tell you whether there is a legal requirement to do something.

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