I’ve got to say that tag-based filtering of data on the web might just be near the top of the “next big thing” list.  I see people and websites leveraging it all over the place.  CompUSA now uses tag-based filtering on their site along with other big names.  I actually think it’s pretty cool and user-friendly……….or do I?

Cool? Yes.  User-friendly? At first it might seem as such, but when I really want to do something tag-based filtering won’t allow, I get very annoyed.  For example, let’s say I’m browsing laptops at CompUSA, and I want to pick any that have AMD processors as well as 15.4″ OR 17″ monitors.  Tag-based filtering will not allow this.  I pick 15.4″, and then I have to go back to pick and view the 17″ monitors separately. 

What happened to simple, tabular reporting with multi-select?  What was wrong with that?  I could pick whichever options I wanted, it took up less screen real estate, and it required much fewer clicks.  I’ve even played with tag-based filtering on a few web applications and web sites.  It is definitely cool and simple, and if you know that filtering will be a straightforward and easy task for your users, it might even be a good choice.  And, chances are, if you didn’t use any reasonable means of filtering data, tag-based might be a great way to go.  But, be weary that it might spark your users’ interest like it did mine and make them wonder why the filtering couldn’t be just as powerful and easy as it was in the “old” days.