Analogy of Views Exposed Filters
"Exposed filters are only as effective in a search as their power to eliminate everything a user is NOT looking for."
I found myself saying this to an intern who was working with me on a task to build a list of pharmaceuticals with complex search criteria. I do almost all my web work in Drupal now, mainly because it seems to cope well with the increasingly complex demands of the company's clients. Anyone who works with Drupal knows the amazing power that the Views module affords when creating lists and searches, especially when combined with other relevant contributed modules. One of the weapons in the Views' arsenal is Exposed Filters.
What are Exposed Filters?
Exposed filters provide a way to allow the user to restrict the entries displayed in a list to only the entries relevant to their search. This is of course even more helpful when dealing with very long lists, like on online shopping sites like Ebay or Amazon. Exposed filters harness the power of focus and places it in the user's fingertips literally. Every good UI design should employ exposed filters to save users time and retain their attention. Life is a continuous succession of choices and we soon realize that some choices are made for us, and some choices are placed in our hands. when and where you are born, to which parents, into what circumstances, etc - these are some choices that were made for us. There were filters that helped in making those choices, but those filters were not exposed to us. However, as we grow and progress in life, we discover more and more filters that have been exposed to us to help localize our choices. Not using these exposed filters could mean we waste precious time going through every option in a list of choices, and the danger of distraction from the original search into the myriad of other possible albeit irrelevant options.
In an age of vibrant communications technologies, an age rife with people and things demanding our attention, the quicker we start to recognize our exposed filters, the better we get at eliminating every distraction till we arrive at the main attraction, elimination every good deal to find the great deal, eliminating every good cause to identify our calling and purpose, eliminating every sensational ideology and religious opinions to realise the truth that will form an axis for our lives.
Everyone is unique, and hence looking for different things at different times, and this determines how we make use of basically the same set of exposed filters for a list of similar life choices. A good UI designer creates exposed filters that help to eliminate choices at each step rather than include options. Elimination helps with focus. Hence, we will usually study the identifying characteristics of an original item, so that we can quickly eliminate every counterfeit when looking for originals. The knowledge of the identifying characteristics of the original item will help us optimize the use of the exposed filters since we now know what we are looking for. So, in light of the above discussion, what are you looking for in life? What are the filters that are exposed to you to help your search? Do you know the identifying characteristics of what you're originally looking for, so that you can optimize the use of the filters life has exposed to you?