Excel Slicers and Good Interface Design

Excel Slicers are incredibly useful for filtering data in Pivot Tables. I like them since they are so very visual; it is easy for users to see the state of the columns that they are filtering. If you’ve ever been given a large spreadsheet with many, many columns, and tried to work out which field is being filtered – then you’ll know what I mean!

By default, if you filter using the Excel slicers, then you may find that the slicers move around when you filter. If you’d like to make sure that the slicers stay in one location, then here is the settings to allow you to do just that. Why is it important to ‘lock’ the Excel slicers into place?

Ben Schneiderman discusses 8 ‘Golden Rules’ of interface design, and these principles are very useful for chart design too. The main rules that apply here is the ‘Strive for Consistency’ Rule: actions should be consistent and similar actions should be required to achieve similar objectives. However, if the Excel slicers are moving up and down on the page, this can mean that the actions are not consistent because you may have to move the slicers around first so you can see them clearly, and then select the filter that you need.

In order to maximise consistency, it is useful to ‘lock’ the Excel slicers into place so that there is no additional step of separation between the user and the activity that they would like to undertake.

1. Right-click on the Slicer, and choose ‘Size and Properties’ at the bottom of the pop-up menu.

Slicer Size and Properties

2. A dialog box will appear, called ‘Size and Properties’.

3. Click on ‘Properties’ on the left hand side.

4. Under ‘Properties’, choose the setting ‘Don’t move or size with cells’. This can be seen in the image below:

Slicer Fix Location

5. Click ‘Close’.

That’s it! The Excel slicers will be anchored to the location that you use to set them. This will help the user, who could be frustrated by the additional step of separation between themselves and the filtering activity that they would like to undertake.

To summarise, Excel slicers are a great idea for users, and their flexibility can be maximised in order to ensure that good design principles are maintained for users.

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