The users needs to conduct a search using contextual filters that narrow the search results.
Whenever you make a change to any input fields, the search results are immediately updated without refreshing the page. This is a variation of the Table Filter pattern. The biggest difference between the two is the feedback time when making changes.
You start out by having one big pot of items you wish to search. This can be emails in your inbox, products in your webshop, or maybe people in your address book. What all these items have in common is that they can be categorized. Emails can be filtered by subject, sender, or receiver. Products can be filtered by price for instance, and the people in your address book can possibly be filtered by job positions.
Present the user with a list filter categories, and let the user filter these by inserting input in text boxes, choosing options in dropdown boxes or even through checkboxes or radiobuttons. Whenever the user makes a change to any of the input fields, the results are automatically updated.
The live filter pattern has been brought up by Pete Forde. He suggests moving from the traditional search paradigm to a filter paradigm:
With a search, you start off with nothing and potentially end up with nothing. Counter to this approach is filtering, where we present everything available, and then encourage the user to progressively remove what they do not need.
Using the live filter pattern moves the search from a monologue to a conversation. The user can progressively remove what they don’t need step by step and receive feedback immediately.
When you weigh your decision to use this filter, consider whether the pattern complicates or simplifies search. If it does anything else than simplify finding the correct search result, choose another solution.
Nicely done, Anders! As a designer/developer of desktop-bound apps, and as someone who has studied design in depth, I will counter the previous comment by claiming that any good designer can see value even if some UI patterns are specific to the web.
Sometimes all a designer needs is an inspiration from a few sentences and screenshots. A site like yours makes this possible, and I consider the site a valuable resource.
For a general review of design, I recommend the book Universal Principles of Design by Lidwell, Holden, and Butler.
Nicolas simply proves that this is a useful site. We have one set of eyes and we see the whole world through them. All UIs should conform to our views of the world. Intuition, comfort, whatever skill we use to navigate an application, we can only use if the application is navigable. For most people it is comfort. Developers may use intuition but only because we use this stuff every day. Which is one reason I got out of development – it is full of people who know that their way is the only way. Tosh. Utter tosh. Since when has a web site not been an application? Think about it – an ATM is an application, but it behaves a lot like a web site. a kettle is an application but doesn’t behave anything like a web site. Amazon is a web site but behaves like an application. And they all require a UI. Good on you Anders, I look forward to seeing your site flourish – I’m dropping a bookmark here. Thanks.