If you have a website with a wide and varied product catalogue, it’s essential to ensure that your customers can find exactly what they need without any hassle. Otherwise, customers may get frustrated quickly when their search queries come up short and end up leaving your site altogether.

Guiding customers in their search is one great way to help streamline the customer journey to the conversion stage by displaying exactly what they’re looking for, which can be easily achieved by offering faceted search. 

What is faceted search?

Faceted search, or faceted navigation, is a type of search filter that customers can use to narrow down their search results. In other words, it matches the results to their search intent using a system that sifts through vast data (such as a large selection of products) and narrows it down with the help of facets.

The aim of this search is to allow customers to find what they’re looking for quickly, making the process of navigating through a website much less daunting and time consuming. 

In that sense, faceted search gives users the power to control their own experience on a site by tweaking search results to specifically match their own interests by selecting from a range of attributes. 

Not to mention that users who use faceted search are ones who know exactly what they want so they’re not just casually browsing through your website; in other words, these users are more likely to make a purchase.

Ultimately, this will ultimately help increase conversions by matching users with the exact product that meets their criteria and also helps with increasing a product’s visibility and discoverability. 

What type of facets are possible?

Facets provide smart filters that are used to describe one aspect of a product. You have endless possibilities to create various types of facets to give your customers a seamless navigation experience. Put simply, you can create facets from any attribute on your website.

Therefore, with faceted search, users can select attributes that are relevant to their goals and interests. These attributes could include:

  • Color
  • Price/price range
  • Rating 
  • Size
  • Brand
  • Etc

As a user clicks on these facets, the search results are refined to direct them towards what they’re looking for.

Here’s an example of faceted search in action on Amazon:

In this example, a search for “coffee machine” will give us a large selection of items with over 1,000 results. The website will also display filtering options or “attributes” that users can select to narrow down the results to the one that fits their needs the best. 

Are facets the same things as filters?

It’s not uncommon to assume that filters and facets are one and the same as in the end, the purpose of both is to narrow down search results and exclude those that don’t meet the specified criteria.

To really understand the difference, we will define what each one means on its own.

As we’ve seen, facets are attributes that are used to organize vast amounts of information by presenting users with an overview of options they can choose from. While it’s true that both facets and filters are used to narrow down and refine search results, there’s still a difference in the way they operate. 

However, unlike facets, filters are often broader in scope and do not change between searches. Moreover, only one generic filter can be applied at a time. Meanwhile, facets relate specifically to a certain query. Thus, we can look at them as more specific filters- where different facets or attributes are displayed only depending on what the query is. In other words, faceted search enables customers to create filters based on keywords.

Facets offer a more intuitive approach to navigation by extending the idea of filters into a more complex structure by offering filters that cover different aspects of a product.

This is especially useful for websites that have extremely large data sets by allowing users to combine multiple filters at the same time. 

Faceted search best practices

We can conclude that faceted search greatly enhances the site navigation and usability as well as the customer experience.

Faceted search is a must-have for any website with a large content base to prevent frustrated users from leaving your site thereby negatively affecting your conversion rate.

This means careful planning needs to go into your facets design. There are many things to consider to plan the ideal faceted navigation for your website, some of which include:

Design for your customers

As you implement faceted search, keep in mind what your users will be looking for and the type of facets they might be interested in. The idea is to guide them through your website so they can find whatever they want whenever they want. 

A rule of thumb is to keep your customers’ needs and interests in mind while adding different attributes.

Take into account your target audience to help you come up with the best language to use when designing your facet options. Ideally, they should represent aspects of your product that will be most relevant to your users and their search goals.

Choose the right number of facets

Too many facets could overwhelm your users with unrelated options while too few could frustrate them. It’s important to have enough facets to narrow down search results in a meaningful way.

This means you need to have the appropriate number of facets for your products and just the right amount to also match your users’ needs.

Consider the placement of your facets

Your facets should be easy to find. There are many ways to place your facets, either horizontally or vertically on your search results page.

In the Amazon example above, facets are placed vertically on the left side of the page. However, some website do opt for horizontal placement as seen on the ASOS website:

Ultimately, this will depend on the number of products you have. The important thing is to avoid having your site look too cluttered so that it flows seamlessly into your page’s style and not disrupt it.

Avoid “no results found” page

It is always highly frustrating for users to come across a no results page after diligent search. One way to combat this frustration is to hide any out-of-stock options so users know you have the option but is not currently available.

Thus, your customers will come across the available options only while the others are grayed-out to inform them it’s unavailable. For example, if a customer is looking for a size small but it’s out of stock, the customer will be shown the other sizes that are available while the option they originally selected is grayed-off. This way, your customers are less likely to stumble onto a results page.

Facets are the difference between a good and bad search experience

Facets are a win-win situation. They are a great way to offer a great customer experience and increase customer satisfaction while also driving sales leading to increased revenue.

Thus, you need to plan your faceted search strategy carefully as it can have a significant impact on your conversion rate.


Grow faster
with ABTasty

Get a custom walkthrough of the plateform

Get a demo