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I am designing a list that is mainly used to compare different items. By default all items are compared, but when the user filters on different attributes, such as name, date or tags, only the filtered items gets displayed and compared.

I also want to user to be able to select any items in the list and then compare only the selected items. My thought is that I could let the user select items with a checkbox on each item, and then press some button to filter away all other items. This could be shown by displaying a "Selected items" to integrate this with the rest of the filters I want.

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Questions:

  • Is there a better design for this?
  • If not, the user might need to include more items after the filtering is done. How should this be solved? I was thinking of adding the non-selected items at the bottom of the list.

Thanks in advance, Markus

  • What is the end-goal? What do you want to accomplish with these items once you have filtered down a view that includes only those selected items? – mtv.vac Mar 30 '17 at 15:26
  • The end goal is just to compare them and choose the best one according to a number of values, that will be displayed in columns omitted here. – Markus A Noren Apr 2 '17 at 7:04
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For your first use case I just had a look how amazon does the filtering: There, you can select checkboxes to filter by attributes, all choices are always displayed in the sidebar so you can add further attributes to your filter anytime and you can clear you choice with the clear button.

amazon.com: filter options for smartphones

I don't like that the filter automatically applies as soon as you select the first checkbox so you cannot select several options at once. This could be improved with an “apply filter” button like you proposed.

For the second use case, I guess this is similar to comparing products in an online shop. I figured the way it is usually done is to first select the products you want to compare and add them to a comparison list which you can access separately (it is usually opened in a second tab/window). You can select further items which are then immediately added to the same list.

If you don't want different tabs/ windows to open, you could also offer a sidebar, where you can still access the non-selected items (similar to amazon) or include an "add items" button to your filtered list, which brings you back to your complete list.

I hope this helps!

  • I'd echo the complaint about Amazon applying the filter as soon as you click... for the number of products they have, it takes a significant time to apply the filter, so choosing several is a drawn-out process. Unless the number of items is small-enough so that filters are applied almost at once, then strongly consider an apply button. – TripeHound Mar 31 '17 at 10:59

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