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First time asker, forgive me if I get anything wrong. I'm working on a big-data enterprise product that has many filters to allow the user to find what they want in a table with thousands of rows and 20+ columns. Every column is filterable, and columns might include "Price Range," "Weight," etc. Out of these dozens of filterable columns, two in particular are what I'd like to ask about: "Category" and "Subcategory." These two filters, as you can imagine, have a close relationship.

As the UI works right now, Subcategory's available options to filter from are unaffected by Category's selection. A user could filter by the Dairy category, for instance, and still see Subcategory options that might include "Cookies" or "Beef", for example.

What is the convention that I should follow in this case? Keep the filters independent of each other (like all other filters) or make these filters dynamically populate one another (either one way or both ways)? I'd be interested in your thoughts/any examples in the real world you see where some filters affect other filters, and other filters don't affect others, all in the same table.

Thank you in advance!

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What do the users assume?
I would be quite confused if I select "vegetables" (if that is a category" and still see the different meats. But I am only one and a designer, to boot.
Please test this with new potential users.

Design a prototype where the second column adapts to the selcetion of the first and again test this with new potential users. Think about animations or other design "tricks" that clarify the dependency.

Of course, you have to consider the existing users who are already used to the established way. In my experience, if the new way is more logical and easy to perceive, users will adapt quickly (there will be some resistance, though)

Established users are used to how the table works, but usually you always have to consider new users as well. If the established design does not work well, the onboarding of new users is more difficult, it may even cause resistance.

You have to weigh the costs of keeping the design and changing it. Having test data will facilitate a good decision.

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  • Thanks, this is helpful! Unfortunately, due to context I won't get into/can't share, testing is not a good option right now. Are you aware of any conventions/research on the subject that might help me to make an informed decision without directly interacting with users?
    – dazid
    Jan 24 at 22:26
  • Is there any research into users? Tasks, description of the users, environment of use? IF so, use that as a starting point and try to think like the users.
    – Gerda
    Jan 25 at 9:30

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