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I am working with a team and we are working on a table filtering project and we have some ideas about page designs in terms of UX. Please excuse the drawings...

One design has a search field on top and an advanced filters button next to it (Opt A) Option A

And an alternative layout with drop downs exposed below the top searchOption B

As a UX professional I tend to like more simple stage in table searches and allow the power users to select the "advanced filter" button. It seems to make the stage clear vs showing a line of drop downs.

I've never seen any data to back up this type of search method. Without user testing, and just use cases, how would one decide what is the best path to go for building out.

Thanks in advance for any advice or comments.

  • I think you'll have to provide some details about the type of information you want to present in the tables if you want a better answer. – Michael Lai Jun 14 '17 at 6:21
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In addition to the options mentioned above, another way would be to create dynamic tables; i.e. collapsing the table based on values that match the drop-down/filter whichever option you choose. Oftentimes, even after filtering, it is hard to locate/focus on the results of the the query because the unnecessary data os still present on the screen. So hide those values and make the filter/dropdown prominent in such cases.

I personally like the dropdown option as it satisfies all 3 use-cases you defined in the comments. For a cleaner design, you can hide it by default, but launch it if the user clicks on a small "search" icon (magnifying glass typically) on the side of the table.

I'd be happy to work on a small mock-up to showcase my solution if anyone is interested. I hope this helps!

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There is no data, specifically, to your case because every case us unique. As you know, simply write a User Test case and run it by five people. There are plenty of places online to help how to do that.

But if you need to know now -- here's an attempt at an answer. Each of your solutions has its pro's and con's -- you decide which is appropriate to your ideal user.

  • A hidden filter accordion is good if filters are minimally used. If the user sets the filters once and that's about all, then tuck the filters away in a hidden area.
  • Header row filters are good if chronic tweaking is needed on the grid. This makes fine tuning search results very easy as user needs to deeper dive results.

Do one of these two scenarios fit your Use Case?

  • +1 thanks, good point. I also try and look at is as 3 types of users. 1st user simply uses the top search, 2nd user mid level uses some drop downs, 3rd user is power users needs all drop downs. Option A is more for power users, Option B allows tweaking on the fly. The only issue of Opt B is if you have more than 4-5 drop downs the screen gets busy and the power user is typically more penalized as they have to click much more. – Robotron3k Jun 13 '17 at 17:38
  • Three case uses makes your job tough! Can the three types of users be recognized by the page (ie roles)? If so, can you code the page to displays filters differently based on sign in role? You should not be picking "your favorite" or what is "cleaner." You should be following the science = what helps your user based on their scenario. – jhurley Jun 13 '17 at 17:45
  • True, 3 cases are difficult, but your suggestion about work around is interesting, different login permissions. Another note, each dropdown will control the neighboring dropdown. As in, depending on what is selected, the options will change, so that creates an interesting scenario for the "blind user" of Option B. Where as, if you see all the filters churning in Option A the user knows what is occurring. – Robotron3k Jun 13 '17 at 17:49
  • It sounds like you answered your own question. But who do you reward the Found Answer to: yourself or my answer? haha – jhurley Jun 13 '17 at 17:51
  • Haha! you jhurley! – Robotron3k Jun 13 '17 at 17:53

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