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My colleague and I have been asked to design a task screen which lists tasks with certain attributes:

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Tasks are listed along with how important they are, who is assigned to them, what kind they are etc. The list must be filterable so that if there are lots of tasks the user can filter down to only certain ones.

My question: I don't think the drop downs are a good way of filtering as it is an extra click to get to a filter and complicates the layout. And I don't think a list view is appropriate, a table view might be a better option.

Questions: what is a better method of filtering? Would a table layout be better than a list?

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    consider things as radio buttons and checkboxes. In my opinion the filter options should be on a small column on the right because the width of the entries are to wide (difficult to read). – daniel Sep 26 '14 at 10:53
  • Is this responsive? – Matt Obee Sep 26 '14 at 14:01
  • I think it's going to be, yes. We're building for Ipad AFAIK – colmcq Sep 26 '14 at 14:03
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If you can fit the information, I think a table would be much better because 1. it makes visually scanning the list easier. When the user has to jump over elments, borders, white space etc. to see the short description, it takes more effort and time. 2. You can fit more records in one page so the user needs to scroll less. 3. You can use inline filters - that is filters that are part of the table column header.

An issue with the list box filters is that they don't clearly visually map to the data that they are filtering. The user has to read the label on the filter and mentally map that to the data element in the list. This operation takes mental effort and folks often turn away from things that take mental effort. As I listed before, inline filters are better because they appear directly above the associated column of data and so the user can see how it relates at a glance. The search MS Outlook offers a interesting case study.The user can open a panel to do advanced filtering but this always feels tedious. Sometimes I use it because it is a powerful way to search but it would so great if they added inline filtering like they have with MS Excel.

Another useful way to filter on discrete items like open/closed, the name of a person etc. is to allow the user to right click on a value in the table or list and filter on that. The context menu itself is a barrier to use but if users can get past that, it is convenient way to narrow. You can offer some affordance by underlining or changing appearance of text on hover.

Faceted search / filtering is another way to narrow down the list. This approach usually shows filter terms in a list along the left side. The user can click a term and it filters on click. The user doesn't need to click drop downs to see the terms so can readily visually scan the list to see if any terms pop out.

  • good points. I agree that a table is better for scanning the important attributes. this design isnt that scannable. – colmcq Sep 26 '14 at 14:05
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Have you considered using Sprint management tools for user stories as best in practice examples?

http://www.jetbrains.com/youtrack/ and https://sprint.ly/ work these kind of tasks quite well

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