Faceted navigation improves conversion by allowing customers to search, refine, and get to what they want more efficiently.  Many websites, of course, use filters that let users search for items, excluding those that do not match the given criteria. Faceted navigation takes this concept a step further by letting users select various characteristics of an object at once, thus providing maximum flexibility in information retrieval. Ultimately, this means not only more choice for the consumer but also allows for them to zero in quickly.

A simple example of how faceted search can improve navigation would be for a website selling phones. Due to the myriad of options like brand, OS, price, features, etc., standard results returned might not be organized and lead to further confusion and shopping cart abandonment. With faceted search, the customer can easily filter information to hone in and/or compare models.

Are you thinking about how faceted search can help you? Here are some good concepts/practices when designing an interface.

1. Make sure options pertain to the product.

For instance in our phone example, including options like brand, price, OS, screen size, and other relevant choices are crucial. The more specific search criteria available to your customer the easier it will be for them find the exact item they want.

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2. Follow the leaders.

Google, Amazon, eBay, et al know a thing or two about faceted search. Visitors expect that your site looks and works similarly and this means, for example, placing your search on the left side of the page. (If placing it on the left is not feasible, the next best spot is at the top of the page, but this means leaving less space for product visibility).

3. Add a "clear filter" link to every category.

This seems like a small detail, but it allows users to quickly start their search over without manually clearing each box previously selected.

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4. Use widgets.

These can include sliders, checkboxes, input forms, and dropdowns. Make them easy to manipulate and have a useful filtering purpose.

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5. Include customer reviews.

Consumers love to read what others who bought the product have to say. Let them sort by star rating as well as those deemed “most helpful.” (This only works well if you have products with lots of reviews).

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6. Get creative.

In addition to price, size, etc. it’s a good idea to offer facets that give them other ways to shop (such as “top 100”) or targeted subgroups (“popular with moms”).

7. Let them expand/collapse.

Faceted search menus can get quite detailed and this can quickly overwhelm. Have main categories, with expandable subcategories that easily open and close to simplify navigation.

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8. Don’t have blank results.

If certain products don’t come in colors or sizes listed, have them greyed out. As an alternative, instead of a zero results page, you can offer suggestions of similar items. The important thing is to not leave your customer in a dead end.

These are just some of the many ideas for how a faceted search navigation to can help optimize performance and create a more consumer-centric site. Faceted navigation is flexible and powerful, however it can be complex to develop and maintain. To learn more about faceted search and how we can create a dynamic, intuitive navigation bar for you, contact us today!

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