I'm struggling with this issue: I'd like to know options on how to CLEARLY display a sub-filter option in a menu. To better explain: the problem is that I have a set of data that will be filtered based on a certain condition. This filtering happens by default, meaning the user HAS to select a filter condition, or a filter will be used by default, but there's no option for unfiltered results (and this can't be changed). These conditions are CONTENT BASED.

Then, I need to filter these results by a secondary condition. Again, a default filter will be applied -because it's the result of an already performed action-, but this time the conditions are ACTION BASED (meaning that these filters are possible actions that happened on the content already filtered).

While there are some things I'd change on the behavior and flow, I really have no much access to change it, and it works fine for client's purposes. However, I need to come with a visual way to clearly display the set of filters and actions, which in turn will display both graph and tabular data, and at this point, all options we have thought about sub-filtering aren't really convincing me, so any help on this will be really appreciated.

EDIT: what I CAN do is to change order of filters, so I could filter BY ACTION and then sub-filter BY CONTENT. This is how the system works now but I don't like it since I'd rather display results for all kinds of content instead of all kinds of content for a given action. However, I'm open for solutions based on this scenario since it's less work for their developers and they're OK with this process flow

EDIT 2: To clarify, here's what the original site looks like (it's not about books and the filters aren't the same, obviously, but the concept and the layout is the same). Also, I did it bigger aand simpler for demo purposes, but it's a menu bar with a table below

enter image description here

What I did to solve this is to move the second filters as main filters, then display them only at first. Once the user selects one of the actions (read, write or burn) then a bottom paper sheet shows up with the content filter options (novel, essay, poetry). So far, I'm liking this since it's pretty clear, but the client is requesting to have EVERYTHING on display at first sight, so my question is if there's a way to properly apply a sub-filter action (text or icon) on a menu bar

  • Could you explain what you mean by "in menus"? The filtering part is pretty clear, but the general layout of the screen is not. Can you provide a screenshot or a quick sketch? May 21, 2015 at 5:34
  • I mean a menu bar
    – Devin
    May 21, 2015 at 14:28
  • I'm wondering if the difference between content-based and action-based filtering is a meaningful one to your users. Can you give an example? Also, is it the case that the selection in the top-level filter affects the options in the subfilter? May 21, 2015 at 14:45
  • yes, it's extremely important. The top level doesn't affect the subfilter options, they're always the same. I have added an image with further explanation
    – Devin
    May 21, 2015 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


I propose a simple solution. From my understanding Write, READ are actions and should be shown when the main search has shown results.... Or if you want to show them all the time, then seperate them with surrounding box so they are closer to results...

I think this problem as 2 step action....

1st step) user will search using top level Filters

2nd Step) show the second level filters/sub-menu with the results to more fine tuning

My visual solution might help what i want to say here....

Solution for filters

  • Thank you Ahsan, but this is exactly what I mentioned I had so far. as a matter of fact, I already presented this solution to the client and waiting for approval, I was just wondering if there was something better
    – Devin
    Jun 5, 2015 at 14:27
  • I agree with you, what i did is that i used a bit human like touch to the interface then i grouped the ACTIONS with the results for better perception Jun 8, 2015 at 14:08

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