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I am currently working on a pretty complex (and convoluted, I'll admit) table in terms of filtering. One of the options for filtering allows the user to filter on an item that is displayed as a column and I'm trying to figure out the least confusing / jarring way to update the table for it.

This is hard to describe in words, I'll be honest so here's a GIF showing the functionality.

enter image description here

I added blocks to hide some data so pay no mind to the floating grey boxes :).

Preview

Currently, only the selected items for that filter are shown in the table and the rest are removed. This has the benefits that the user doesn't have to see or think about information that they don't care about, but then they have to re-adjust to what is effectively a "new" table. The other option is to gray out the unselected columns so the information is still there but taken out of focus.

What method from the above, or some other if you have ideas, do you think would confuse the user the least?

  • For building, area, task, frequency - how many potential values could you see in each of those selection areas? – DarrylGodden Oct 19 '18 at 7:10
  • On average, building will probably have 10 items, area will have 50, task will have 75 and frequency will have 7. Don't worry too much about area / building / task filtering though, we have some enhancements planned like adding a search feature for each of those lists. – Murad Khan Oct 20 '18 at 14:11
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Best option is to automatically readjust the table after user has selected filters. Check Outlook's email pane in details view where if you add/remove certain columns, pane gets readjusted with whichever columns are visible.

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I think that in this case graying out the unselected data is good. You don't need more space, so hiding them is not needed. Additionally as you said if you gray them out, the other columns won't change their location.

Tables usually adjust and show only the columns that user have selected it is helpful in most cases. As I said it's makes space for the remaining columns. The data can be then more readable. However you don't have enough content in your cells to worry about it. The only issue here is that if the user wants to show the table to somebody else the graying out will look unprofessional. I have a feeling that your table filters are for providing info for the user, not a feature for making reports, aren't they?

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