I'm just working on a quite complex interface. There are/will be tons of items in it and there is a massive search feature. Search is filterable just like on Ebay or Amazon etc. Filters are very complex (in fact different even by categories). There are even sorting and other functions above the search results.
Since there are many results we display 40 of them on one screen with thumbnail and additional information (like Name, Owner…).
The usual place for such filter panels is on the left side of filtered objects. However, I think that in this case (a lot of extra information) it might bother the user who just wants to browse through results. I think that a search term could be "well-formed" enough to narrow the results for the first result page (especially if the search engine is good enough at relevancy ordering).
The amount of information displayed is huge: at least 30 filter possibilities and even more variations (depending on filtered category) + sorting + >40 results (with item name, owner and more).
Most of the members of my team think: "display every filter without the possibility of closing them on the left". This is the usual method (the position is very common, at least).
My point of view:
- add the arrow to be able to close filter groups (and they are closed by default)
- rearrange the whole pane to the right
I know, it's not a common arrangement… That's the biggest disadvantage of it. Still, you are able to focus on your main point: results.
Which one is better in this case?
leave everything as usual (left-sided filtering everything opened) -> amazon.com
close all filters by default and create a "learnable" interface -> google.com
close all filters by default and rearrange the page to have them on the right side of search results (not common, but content focused)
leave all filters open but put them on the right side of the results (not common, but content focused)