Filters are provided as your organization’s unique way to communicate with your audience so that they can browse your calendar and event content intuitively and effectively. This means that filters must always be AUDIENCE centric. What does it mean to be audience-centric? They need to be succinct, clear, and match the expectations of your users.
The following steps will ensure that your filter list always serving your audience in the best ways possible.
New to Localist’s categorical tools? Start with our introductory guide: Intro to Classification
The most common roadblock we see across our platforms is that filters lists are too long. The longer your list, the more likely it is that your users won’t be able to not just find events they’re interested in, but that they will also abandon your calendar all together.
An ideal filter list length will accomplish two things:
- Prevent “expand” and “show more” links from truncating your filters as much as possible. In Localist an “Expand” link will show after four child filters and a “Show More” link will show after five parent filters.
- Be entirely viewable in a typical window size with as little additional scrolling as possible.
Auditing Your Filter List
The easiest way to work on trimming the excess is to remove what should not be a filter in the first place.
Here’s 4 kinds of filters you should always omit or remove:
- Places: If you’re including locations you are not only cluttering your filter list, but you are selling your platform short. Localist provides Place Pages that provide the ability to curate a directory for admins/submitters to select from and users to browse. These pages increase SEO by adding more pages to your site and extra context surrounding an event.
- Organizations: Just like places, Localist provides Group Pages that can be used to house any common event hosts, groups, organizations, departments, associations, clubs, etc. If there’s a common “host” then a group page is the perfect solution!
- Temporary, Annual, Seasonal or Limited Series: If a filter is not used year-round, then it should be a Tag. Things like Inauguration (temporary), Homecoming (annual), Christmas (seasonal) or MLK Week (Limited Series) are only serving your users for a small percentage of the year, while inhibiting their browsing experience for the majority of the year.
- Event Details: If a filter is communicating any logistics of an event, then these details should instead be moved to the event’s description or perhaps collected in a custom field. For example, things like “food provided,” “free parking” or “dog friendly” should be omitted.
Once you’ve removed items that are not meant to be filters, your next step to focusing your list is to consolidate, consolidate and consolidate some more!
Here’s five things to avoid:
- Granularity: Once you have removed the misused filters, your next step is assessing the level of granularity. Ask yourself, “will a general user really understand or care about a distinction?” For example, will users know what distinguishes a “lecture” from a “talk,” “presentation,” “assembly” or “conference”? Also ask yourself, “does the benefit of including a granular filter outweigh the benefits of removing it to have a succinct list?” For example, is it really necessary to include unique filters for “contemporary,” “ballet” and “hip-hop” in lieu of only “dance?”
- Child filters: In the same vein, child filters should only be used when absolutely necessary for the same purposes. By their very nature, child filters run a high risk of being too granular and not contributing to a positive user experience. An easy way to automatically scale these back is to remove instances of there being only one child under a parent filter.
- Duplicates: Just like granular filters, if your filter list has duplicates then you also run a high risk of admins and submitters only selecting one, which will cause your users to be left missing out on discovering events if they to only catch one of the filters. Duplicates are often found in two different groups of filters. For example, having an “Alumni” event type filter and an “Alumni” target audience filter.
- Yes/No Filters: Filters should never be formatted as a question/answer. For example, having a parent filter for “Open to the Public” and child filters for “yes” and “no.” In instances like these, the absence of “Open to the Public” and the presence of another audience filter like “Students” will be clear enough for your users.
- Internal Filters: If you need to label and collect events that are internal/geared towards staff, then you should be using keywords or tags. Since filters are always displayed on your homepage, you want to use this prime real estate for items that will be serving the majority of your audience at all times.
Organizing Your Filters
Now that you’ve reduced and consolidated your filters, you need to evaluate how they are grouped to ensure that they are easily identifiable and digestible. Your filter list should not consist of only an “Event Types” list that includes filters from a range of categories.
There are three main filter groups that cover all of your bases:
- Event Type: this is the format of an event and communicates what an attendee will be doing or experiencing at an event.
- Target Audience: this is who should or can attend the event and communicates who an attendee can expect to mingle with at an event.
- Topic: this is the theme of the event and communicates overarching goals or initiatives for why the event is being held.
- Example: An event format is a fundraiser (type) geared towards alumni (target audience) for a new arts program (Arts & Culture topic).
Depending on your type of organization and your goals, these filter groups may vary. Other successful filter groups have been cost, neighborhood, and language. The bottom line is that they should be streamlined and their goal should be entirely clear to your users.
Monitoring Filter Usage
Your last — and ongoing — step to finalizing your list is to confirm that they are actually being used by your admins, submitters, and users.
To put your filters to the test, these two statements should be true of all filters:
- Consistently & recently used by admins/submitters
- Consistently & recently browsed by users/visitors
If one or both of these statements is not true, then the filter should be removed and instead used as a landing page or tag. There is nothing less engaging then having dozens of filters with (0) displaying across your calendar pages!
Admin & Submitter Activity: Use your admin dashboard to see how many times a filter has been applied to events as well as the last time it was applied to an event.
User & Visitor Activity: Use Google Analytics to see how often a filter is browsed by your visitors. Just because a filter is used frequently by admins, does not guarantee that it will be of interest or helpful to your users.