The good news is that the concept of faceted navigation is growing in popularity; the bad news is that there are more mediocre filtering experiences than there are good ones. Baymard Institute conducted usability testing
on multiple sites, including benchmarking 50 major retailers, and found that 84% of the sites offered a poor filtering experience.
The most common contributors to the poor experience include a lack of key filtering options, poor design and logic that doesn't meet the visitor's expectations. Their research highlighted Macy's as a great example of how to do it right. Let's take a look at 3 aspects of their filtering implementation that put them at the top.
Product Filtering Must Haves
- Provide category-specific filters — This seems like a no-brainer, yet it's not unusual to see filters that make no sense and are not relevant to the search query. For a category like coats, 'material' is appropriate but it's not highly relevant for TV's. It's also helpful to highlight a product attribute such as size, brand style to make the options easier to understand and navigate.
- Promote important filters at the top of the product list — Many times a category or set of search results has a handful of filters that are beneficial to the majority of users searching on a particular term. These filters may not be prominent in the left hand navigation, but by promoting them at the top of the product list as a "featured" category can improve the customer experience.
- Allow users to apply multiple filter values — Simply put, you must make it easy for users to refine their product selection by applying multiple filters. Make sure visitors can easily find all of the displayed filters and that they are reminded of them. This can be achieved by displaying the filters in both their original position and in an overview.
Macy's is a great example to use for inspiration of filtering logic. How is your e-commerce website handling brick-and-mortar requests? Can you confidently say that customers can reach out to your company via any channel they prefer without issue? The time to make sure you are on the right track is now, before the holiday train starts rolling.