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I'm doing an interface where the user is allowed to filter down by attributes. The attributes are filled in by the users, so there could be 1 filter in the list or hundreds.

Do I let the filter area stay a fixed height all the time even if there are no attributes or do I let it grow and shrink depending on the number of filters available?

Photos for reference:

shrunk option

large option

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This is more about design opinion. It's not "wrong" to keep each section at constant height, just not a great use of the screen.

I would suggest a couple things:

  • Only showing the minimum amount of filter values

  • Reclaim the vertical space accordingly

  • Remove sections which (as in your example) only have one filter value, since they won't really narrow down the search further. Or, if you need to keep them, change it to be an unclickable item ("All results are already in the 2501-5000 sqft range"). Otherwise you invite the user to click on something that does nothing.

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Take a look at how other people are doing it to find your answer. Spinning the "wheel of examples" I landed on Zillow:

enter image description here

Yep, it's a dropdown that gets tucked away after I make a selection. An important thing to note here is that content is king. What matters most in your layout are the results, not the filters, unless those controls are the focus on your design (they're likely not). So, collapse options behind dropdowns and menus. Shrink the interface and controls to make room for the content area. let what the user wants to see fill the screen.

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