I'm working on a design of iOS app. It allows to search some restaurant typing the street or city. If one wants to refine this search, there are some filters (like kitchen, medium price, ticket restaurant and so on), which are opened in another page.

According to Nielsen's principle of visibility of system status, do you think that after the refining of the search with some of these filters it is necessary to have in the result search page (the page which shows all the results based on the search) something that reassumes all the active filters? Or it isn't worth because a user knows what his filtering was, and he doesn't need a direct feedback like this?

2 Answers 2


Visibility of system status is never a bad thing, but always be aware of when a heuristic was "defined" when taking it into consideration. Nielsen talked about "visibility of system status" in the mid-90s... iOS didn't exist then. Again, I'm not saying to ignore the statement or that it is wrong in any way. The world has simply changed and a heuristic that is true in one case may not be true in another case, nor are they forever.

One option is to display a filter bar at the top of screen:

enter image description here

In this case the list is clearly filtered and the user can see how the list is filtered. You can use a button (I tossed on the ellipses for this example) to call up a list of all the available filters. You can also allow the user to begin typing into the filter field and show an autocomplete list.

The downside is that the field will quickly fill up given the space on the phone and some filters may be hidden. The user will know that something is filtered, but they may have to call up the full list to see everything.

Another solution would be to simply show a "Filter" icon somewhere. You can show a status of when the filter is action, and perhaps how many filters are active:

enter image description here

Much more space conscious but I don't know what I'm filtered on until I click the button again.


I think that in your situation, the user should be given some sort of indication that the search results are filtered. I think this would be particularly useful when the user is interrupted (phone call, text message, etc) and forgets that they had applied any filters in the first place.

However, I understand that you might not want to give away too much screen real estate to explain exactly what filters are currently applied. Perhaps just a binary indication that some sort of filter is being used or not would suffice. Indicating that on/off status on or near the control that brings the user to your 'filter selection' screen might be a natural way to indicate 'filters on' or 'filters off'.

  • Thanks for your answer. As you said, I don't want overload showing all applied filters. I'm thinking on change the button color, but, if I want to follow new iOS 7 style, the button doesn't look like a button (IMHO I think that it could be seen as an affordance problem) is only a label. Do you think that changing color could be sufficient. Thanks for your answer. Nov 20, 2013 at 16:55
  • I don't think that changing the text color is a good idea in this case because that might conflict with iOS7's idea of using color to indicate the enabled/disabled state of the button itself. Maybe showing a little icon that indicates filtering would be appropriate. Indicating the number of filters in use with text would be another option. Nov 20, 2013 at 17:01

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