Currently, our product review comparison tables offer some filtering and sorting functionality via a navigation panel on the left. However, sometimes this functionality does not meet everyone’s needs. It may provide too much detail, not enough detail or sometimes it’s not well understood, which means we need to make it clearer where possible.
So, we’re starting this thread to learn how we can improve this aspect of our comparison tables. Would you like a filter added to a comparison report? More details in a table? Let us know here and we’ll assess it for future reports.
I believe this has been mentioned before, and was suggested to be ‘in the future pipeline’. But just in case, I admit to a degree of frustration when looking for specific and obvious criteria in reviews, but can’t filter/sort for it.
I’m hoping it will happen sooner rather than later
[quote=“postulative, post:45, topic:14502, full:true”]
On the phone testing and comparison front, I would like to add a brief (stops typing for a moment to permit commentary from the cheap seats) suggestion. Choice has been exhaustive in its review of mobile phones, and has made lots of useful information available to the reader. Two features I would love but that I cannot currently see are:
An option to export the whole pile of data into Excel, so the user can ‘fiddle’ with it.
The ability to filter based upon a specified set of criteria. So for example, I want a phone whose display is at least 1080p, 5.5" diagonal. I like… Android OS, and I want my phone to be able to accept external memory. Finally, I want something that came out in the last two years.
The ability to export would negate the need for filters; the provision of filters would reduce the need to export.[/quote]
Thanks again for raising the issue @postulative and @meltam. I’ve moved your comments over here so we can continue the discussion on exporting data and hopefully my reply on the previous thread explains how to filter based on the above criteria. If not, let me know and I’ll reassess the answer.
As mentioned, occasionally we get feedback or requests for more details and sometimes we receive feedback the information we provide is too complicated. We’ve attempted to build on this over the years to create a comparison table that meets multiple needs.
One request is the ability to export data in Excel format. No doubt this would be valuable for some users, but it does raise some questions in terms of how we operate. Our comparison tables sometimes sit behind a paywall, which funds the work that happens at CHOICE. It helps keep us independent, which we know is critically important for many of our members. We need to keep control of this data as best as possible, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want everyone to have the ability to find what they need.
Would it be correct to say that the need being raised here is the ability to sort detailed comparison data by any criteria contained in the ‘compare all products’ tables? Or do we need simply need more effective filters up front. Feel free to leave any other suggestions (general or specific) on comparison tables.
As I am not a member I can’t usually see the reviews unless they are public ones. I do support the need for the tables to be exported eg CSV or similar so the data can be viewed and manipulated to get the user’s desired results. By manipulation I do not mean altering the actual data but using it to get the results in a meaningful way to the user.
I should add that when comparing products for family and friends in the info tech area I do sometimes “weigh” the data provided to me. This weighing sometimes is different for different users and as such it’s usefulness may either be raised or lowered by some percentage rather than totally included or discounted. Having some way that allows me to weight it according to these needs make it useful to me to be able to import data into a spreadsheet or database and then apply the desired weight. This can result in a series of items that meet the needs rather than a single choice and allows the end user a larger yet equivalent choice of products.
I am happy for the table to sit where it is, I have been and still am advocating for some more functionality.
The problem is, that each person who looks at the reviews may have their on special requirements, and what is important to them can be completely different to the sorting criteria currently provided.
I believe I have said previously that I would be happy if it was an optional hierarchical drill down selection process which allows people to refine searches if they choose.
Examples of the searches I may wish to do are:-
What if you have a space limitation? At present you can’t search for models (of white goods or TVs etc) that fit into the available space, you have to check the measurements of each model in the comparison page.
What if you want a freezer with full face drawers?
What if you want a DVR with a BD player?
What if you want to search for tyres that perform best on a people mover?
What if I want a TV with built in Wi-Fi &/or DLNA?
Which air conditioner is suited to northern Australia with high humidity, warmer temps etc.?
All of these and similar optional searches, should be available to those who can access behind the paywall.
In some instances, I wonder whether there might be value in linking to Google Docs? For instance, publishing a Google spreadsheet that the nerdier readers can use to filter various options or prepare their own charts on specific metrics.
Just throwing the idea at the wall.
Regarding what @meltam has suggested, some of the listed features may be columns in a spreadsheet but others may necessarily be textual descriptions that you can find only by searching an item’s review or looking at photos. Maybe the latter reside in an area where Choice’s search functionality becomes more important? That is, providing the ability to search for a piece of text within an item category (e.g. search ‘refrigerators’ for ‘child-sized compartments’ (these particular details will assist me to fulfil an order on behalf of an old lady who specialises in buildings made from gingerbread)).
I failed to address this in my last comment, @BrendanMays. I suspect, without knowing enough about it, that Google may indeed be able to help you to balance the countervailing demands of providing better information while protecting Choice’s ability to earn money to produce that information in the first place.
The Google Docs are all online, browser-based. That is, you do not need to download a file. Okay - but this does not protect your data… unless Google Docs also provides a ‘no save’/‘no download’ feature; something I think (but am not entirely sure) is available. I would recommend investigating whether this might provide both the flexibility that spreadsheet users desire and the security that content owners are always demanding.
Finally I will mention that as far as I have seen the ability of Choice to protect its intellectual property is pretty good. It is generally very easy to bypass the firewalls put in place by papers like The Australian, but such back doors do not seem to be left open at Choice. (That said, I have not tried particularly hard - and I am not an expert.)
Great suggestions @postulative, it’s something we can definitely consider. Personally, I like the idea of a ‘power user’ for those who want to take things to the next level. Food for thought, I’ll be sure to share it with my colleagues.
We welcome more feedback to this thread at any time.