Facets allow narrowing down search results/data to a chosen few depending on some field or attributes.

According to Wikipedia:

Faceted search is a technique which involves augmenting traditional search techniques with a faceted navigation system, allowing users to narrow down search results by applying multiple filters based on faceted classification of the items.

So, Faceted search aka faceted browsing or faceted navigation, helps users as visible criteria to explore a lot of search results by displaying a summary about various partitions of the search results which helps users to narrow the navigation to a specific partition. Faceted Search, also known as guided navigation uses product attributes for displaying summary to the users so that users can go to a specific portion of the products very easily.

For an e-commerce site with lots of product databases, an intelligent search box is at the center of the user’s expectation which will guide users through the site intuitively. Users searching on google and on your site are different. Once they land on your site and are using the search functionality, they have shown interest in your site. Faceted Search is a visible interaction and easy navigation through search results. Users will be allowed to express their opinion as to if they are in a physical store and finalizing their choice of products. More faceting options, multiple filter selection will narrow down their need and you will get a better understanding of them. No more extra search queries, traversing irrelevant pages one after another. By offering faceted search, you will see a stronger conversion rate and users will start revisiting your site frequently.

What is a faceted search ( faceted browsing)?

Faceted Search, aka guided navigation, will allow you to add specific and relevant options to the search pages. Users will find what they are looking for and it will help them to understand more about your product catalog. And at last, they will see where they have ended up.

With faceting, you ensure that the right, logical filters are available where and when the user is looking for them. With these user needs as a top priority, customers will get more intuitive interaction on your online store as if they are in a physical store. 

ExpertRec facet filters

Users should not do multiple searches to find what they need. Allow them to filter by a few different facet types so they can get exactly what they are looking for.

Why Faceted Search? Why traditional filters and category navigation are not sufficient?

If your site has 100-200 products in the database, then traditional filters are sufficient. 2-3 pages will cover most of the relevant products for a search query. But for a site with thousands of products and of a different variety, facets will make the search experience more intuitive. Faceting, sorting will help users while browsing.

Faceted search allows a customer who knows what they want to narrow by what’s important, based on the search terms they use, and without limiting their choice to exactly one item. It also helps those who aren’t sure what they want to outline some of the attributes they might want to consider. They can also be useful for teaching your customers the kinds of questions to ask. 

Thus facets will be more interactive options for a user and they will allow users for expressing opinions very easily. Otherwise, users will find it difficult and they will go elsewhere.

Faceting vs Filtering

These 2 features are usually confused as there is more commonality between them, but understanding the thing that differs is important. Both are utilized for refining search results and showing a subset of search results. Filtering is done completely unknown to the end client whereas faceting is commonly for building a UI, where clients can choose attributes (as classifications) to additionally refine their inquiry. Facets vs Filters cover this in more detail.

when does faceting happen?

For a search query, when search results are composed then facet calculation happens.

For a product attribute, its value and how many times it occurs in search results will be calculated.

The engine can configure facets in a way such that the user can filter results based on any attribute and then returned them.

Ex. Search results will have a list of brands along with their count( most probably in decreasing order) and this will be shown to the user to help them narrow down a search in a particular brand. This is called the brand facet.

Faceting will populate filter options on the left or top of search results. This allows the user to filter search results based on one or more attributes. 

Key Points while adding facets:

How many Facets?

Too few facets will not be sufficient. The user should feel the interaction as if he/she is in a physical store. So give them enough options and let them narrow down to what they are looking for. Ultimately, it’s about conversion rate, sell, and will impact on their next visits to the site.

Will faceting always help?

As discussed earlier, 100-200 products in the entire catalog will not gain if facets are present or not. Facets will benefit your site if there are thousands of products consisting of varieties.

How should be UI design?

A user will gain more confidence if they see a count of matching products in front of the name of facet filter values. Also, allow users to compose their questions by using the facets. It will give them feel as if they are in a physical store. They will need multiple facets and inside a facet multiple selections accordingly. Similarly, the design should be more relevant. Ex. facet for the price should either be like buckets or like a slider as shown below.


expertrec price slider expertrec price bucket

Similarly, facets for a date field, rating field will be different. Also for a facet field color, instead of just saying “Dark Blue”, show “Dark Blue” color along with the name or directly the color itself, this will gain more confidence.

expertrec colour facet expertrec colour facet

Above are the key points for designing facets that will not only make the search journey interactive but also user-friendly. It will not only save a few more searches but also will make a user come back again.

Conclusion: let’s integrate Faceted Search into your website.

We discussed the importance of facets and key factors of implementing it. It’s not just the search results that make a user happy, faceting will add up value to it. Cutting down the distance between the user and the expected product is what ultimate aim of any e-commerce site and Facets will be on the positive side. For multi-dimensional data as in the case of e-commerce sites, faceted search ( aka faceted navigation) helps users browse enormous data in a better way.

Faceting is a common search feature and ExpertRec provides out of the box. You can define facets as you need. We support the visual representation customizing as per your site. You choose the facet fields, and you will be able to select the widget accordingly. Further customizing of the particular widget is also supported.

Happy Searching…!

Govind Dhonddev is a Software Engineer at ExpertRec, who loves coding, food and writing blogs.

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