I have a few types of filters for a table and they should be concatenated.

So in the end I should get something like this:

URL contains google.com and Visits > 1000 and Date is before 30.12.2011

For string-filters I got:

  • contains/doesn't contain
  • equals/doesn't equal
  • starts with/doesn't start with
  • ends with/doesn't end with
  • matches/doesn't match (for regular expressions)

Should I use mathematical symbols for the number-filters?

  • Visits > 1000
  • Visits bigger than 1000

Also what should I use for date-filters?

  • Date is older than 30.12.2012
  • Date was before 30.12.2012
  • Date is newer than 30.12.2012
  • Date is younger than 30.12.2012
  • Date was after 30.12.2012
  • 1
    Who are the users of the system? Technical folks or general population? – rk. Apr 29 '13 at 15:35
  • In the end you display several lines like that or just one? – Gildas Frémont Apr 29 '13 at 16:05
  • one, but it can be rather long (dependend on the complexity of the filter) and have linebreaks – K.. Apr 29 '13 at 16:58
  • By "fluent" do you mean "verbose"? Or maybe "fluid"? – elemjay19 Apr 29 '13 at 19:06
  • I mean something speaking. easily to read :) – K.. Apr 29 '13 at 19:31

You would have to test with your audience, but I would opt for symbols where they are clear to most people. For anything numerical, X > Y is clear. I can't speak for all cultures, but I covered this in grade 4 at school, so I would assume the majority of people have at least this level of mathematical understanding.

I would also opt to do the same for dates, as they represent a clear order (the same as numbers). So saying Date < 30.12.2012 should be clear as should 30.12.2012 < Date. Note here that I kept the same symbol and moved the date, as it is generally clearer and easier to see when you keep the order with the smallest on the left and the largest on the right. This technique has been shown to reduce confusion when reading code, and the same logic should apply to filters.

Still, this needs to be tested with your audience to be sure. Maybe the last time they used > or < symbols was 60 years ago, or maybe they use them every day.

  • 1
    It's probably a good idea to use mathematical symbols for number filters. But I don't know if the usage of > and < with dates is a good idea :\ – K.. Apr 29 '13 at 18:12
  • 3
    @K.. It's something that you would need to test to see whether it is clear to your customers or not. – JohnGB Apr 29 '13 at 18:15

Maybe even less "boolean" kind of language than your suggestion. Instead of

  • URL contains google.com and Visits > 1000 and Date is before 30.12.2011

maybe a more language-ish approach might be better

  • The address contains google.com and has more visits than 1000 and it was created before 30.12.2011

If the string gets really long, mabye splitting it up into a bullet list or similar might make it easier to scan.

  • The columns get generated dynamically, so I don't know if it's "URL", I just know it contains strings :\ – K.. Apr 29 '13 at 17:00

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