Workshop: How to Filter Information with Karl Fast

  • 16 May 2016
  • 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Metropolitan State University Library, 645 E 7th Street, St. Paul, Room 302
  • 42


  • Includes cost of workshop and new membership
  • Includes cost of event as needed. May ask for proof of student status.

Search often reveals too much information. Filtering is a way to rapidly narrow a large information space. It the means by which we reveal important patterns, focus on specific detailsand reduce visual noise. While search is how we find what we might be looking for, filtering is how we cut through the morass and turn search into success.

Filtering is more than just a feature: it is often a foundation that drives the overall design. This workshop will teach you how to design a filtering interface, including choosing filter controls, mapping metadata to these controls, and patterns for representing filtered information. It will also give you a framework for approaching filtering problems on desktop, mobile and emerging interactive technologies. 

The Agenda

During the day we will work through a series of design exercises. You will sketch designs and as we go further into this topic, we will repeatedly revise and improve our sketches as we learn new ways to apply and think about filtering.


  • How filtering is related to search, and where it differs
  • Why filtering is an integral part of how people make sense of information
  • A framework of common filtering widgets and controls
  • A checklist for determining which controls to use when and the tradeoffs
  • Mapping data to specific interaction controls
  • A big-picture design pattern of filter-based interfaces


  • How to improve filtering-based systems through supporting interactions such as probing, collecting, and rearranging
  • Filtering information in mobile interfaces and touch displays
  • Novel filtering techniques and how these change our understanding of what filtering is and how it can be applied
  • Filtering in emerging technologies such as augmented and virtual reality – a glimpse into the future

From a checkbox to virtual reality

This workshop aims to provide UX designers with a practical foundation in the fundamentals of filtering, while also covering a wide arc. It begins with how filtering is often achieved through familiar GUI controls, defines a clear pattern for how to design a filter-based interface, and ends by exploring dramatically different approaches to filtering.

If you attend this workshop you will gain:

  • A framework for approaching information problems in terms of filtering
  • A structured process for mapping information to filter controls.
  • A conceptual model for all major elements of a filtering interface: controls, substrate, and objects.
  • A vocabulary of interactions people use to understand information
  • How interaction can be used to tackle understanding problems with existing technology, as well as how it might be applied to emerging technology such as augmented reality.

About Karl

Karl Fast is the Director of Information Architecture at Normative, a software design studio in Toronto. He has taught dozens of courses and workshops, all dealing with how to design in a world where information and computation are abundant, pervasive, and cheap.

Karl was previously a professor of User Experience Design at Kent State University, where he taught graduate courses on information architecture, information visualization, and interaction design. He holds a PhD from the University of Western Ontario where he studied human-information interaction.

Karl is a founding member of the Information Architecture Institute and co-author, with Stephen Anderson, of the upcoming book "Design for Understanding" to be published by Rosenfeld Media.

He is based in Minneapolis, where he lives with his family.

Director of Information Architecture, Normative,

twitter: @karlfast


This workshop is sponsored by The Nerdery.

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