Provide dropdown inputs that present the categories by which the user can filter the data set by. Once the user selects a category and clicks “Filter” or something similar (when the user submits the form), the same data set is shown, but only with rows that belongs to the category selected.
Optionally, multiple filters can be added. If this solution is chosen, you must be aware to update the categories of each dropdown box accordingly when one category is selected – as the selecting values in one category might reduce the options left in another.
Adding filters to your tables lets the user reduce the amount of items shown. Filters help narrow down search results, letting the user find more accurate results.
This is a nice start on a pattern, but it should also be called out that it’s not especially scalable in either the column or data directions. If I have columns with widely varying values, you’d have to instantiate every possible value in the drop-down, or hope that you can define intelligent ranges. Alternatively, if your table has a large number of columns, then matching the column to the filter becomes unwieldy. I’ve seen two variations that address each of these.
The first is to apply a single filter by means of a drop-down that lists all the column titles followed by an input. This lets the user specify the values in the context of whatever column they choose. But this comes at the expense of only providing one filter across the table.
For the second issue of large numbers of columns, I’ve seen designs that introduce a dedicated row (above or below the header) to contain column specific drop-downs, and each drop-down has an artificial “All” value as a default. This design negates the Filter button, as the filter is executed immediately on changes.
I’d like to see all the patterns do a better job of calling out their pros and cons, since we all know there’s no such thing a one-size-fits-all pattern for design. If there was, we’d all be out of jobs. :)
Does anyone know how to set up aliases in the drop down list filters ? As pointed out in one of the posts above sometimes there are columns with widely varying values and rather than instatiate every value (as some solutions do) it would help to set up an alias in the drop down that corresponded to a range of values ?