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I am working on a filter where the users should be able to filter a list of products based on the animals the products can be used for. If the user selects 'dog' the products which are usable for dogs should be shown.

There is also a category of products which are usable for all animals. These should be shown regardless of which filter the user choose. So far so good.

The main issue here is that the animal classification of products is optional. There are products which have no animal set. These products could although be for specific animals or for all animals, we do not know.

The wording of the filter items does now get tricky. Would selecting "all animals" be equal to not filtering the list and showing all products? Or would selecting "all animals" equal showing the products which actually are for all animals?

And one more thing, the products are animal medicine so selecting eg. an elephant drug for a ginnypig should not be a mistake users can do. The all animals filter must therefore be very clear and intuitive.

Edit: it's a drop down on top of a list of products. The users can click on a product which takes them to a page with extensive information about the product.

  • Is this a single text smart filter? Or is it a step by step filter? Do you have any mocks of where it will go in your entire design? – Harshal Nov 4 '16 at 7:20
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    This is more of a linguistic question than a UX one. Having said that, how about "Universal Products"? – Andrew Martin Nov 4 '16 at 8:18
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    Surely your user's motivation here is to find a product for their animal? So if I have a dog, I will select Products for Dogs and proceed from there. So the products for "All animals" should be shown in the list I see, as they may be suitable for dogs, possibly with some warning that they may not be appropriate? – James Fryer Nov 4 '16 at 8:18
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Surely it's unlikely customers will want a product suitable for all animals. No-one owns all animals.

What they probably mean is a product for 'any animal' - i.e. non specific.

Use:

  • All products
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Fish
  • etc
  • Any animal

Don't use:

  • All animals

Alternatively, if these products that are supposedly for all animals aren't actually something that is administrable to the animal but instead is an accessory or other similarly non animal specific, then create suitable categories for them:

  • Accessories
  • Clothing
  • Equipment
  • Human medicine
  • Disinfectant
  • Farm products
  • Other

It's hard to judge the effectiveness of an answer to this question without knowing the types of products you have that are causing a problem.

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Oh boy, that's not a good situation. How are people to tell what creature some particular med is suited to? As you say, nobody should have to discover, too late, that they've bought elephant drops to treat a mouse.

So your problem is that you don't have enough information to correctly offer certain products. Your customer needs to provide that information before you can safely go forward.

Or, if you can't get that information, then the products that are unknown should be left off the list since their customer would not be best pleased to be presented a sublist labeled (in effect if not in words) "We don't know anything about these, so you'll have to research them yourself if you want to buy them".

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Your domain makes it a tricky question. In general, the All Animals section would have everything the website has to offer. However, when you think of medicines, you have rightly highlighted the mistake users can do.

Would selecting "all animals" be equal to not filtering the list and showing all products? Or would selecting "all animals" equal showing ONLY the products which actually are for all animals?

I would clearly advise for the later.

Even though the business commercial sense is to show all products when all animals option is selected, I would advise against it. When all animals option is selected, I would list only the generic medicines which are applicable to every species and every breed. This would be the range of products which are truly agnostic to the type of animals. Something like measuring cups and auxiliary supplies etc.

This proposal will face resistance from business, but from UX standpoint, I see users thanking the system for safeguarding them from making incompatible and potentially dangerous purchases.

When the user creates a profile, I would recommend asking the preferences for the animal type as well. It is a valid case a user might own both a dog and a cockatoo. So, if the user directly makes a search both dog and cockatoo related products will show up. In this case, the product icon needs a clear depiction of a broad classification of the product.

I can visualise an e-commerce filter system on the left sidebar with dog and cockatoo selected by default. When the user makes search the product icons may indicate the species too.

Here is something,

enter image description here

Sorry, I didn't have appropriate icons for dogs and cockatoos :)

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