When to use faceted navigation

14 Oct 2009 - 9:18pm
6 years ago
5 replies
908 reads
Amy Silvers

In e-commerce, I think it makes the most sense to use faceted
navigation when there's more than one criterion by which customers
are likely to evaluate products/services--which turns out to be most
of the time when you're dealing with a catalog of any size, IMO.

If you have a few items with only two facets, but the majority lend
themselves to multiple facets that are meaningful to customers, I
don't think that's a problem. But if your catalog consistently
supports only two facets (for example, brand and price), each with
only a handful of attributes, then faceting may be overkill. The key
to making the use of facets make sense, I think, is to find the right

It isn't a perfect technique for every situation. If your product
hierarchy is very granular, and you then apply faceted navigation on
top of it, you may wind up with something like this example from


This may not be inherently "wrong" or bad, but it does seem like a
lot of work to get to that one product (which is one of two products
in the Electronics > Batteries > General Purpose category). Faceting
isn't what's wrong with that example, but it's not adding much to
the experience either. And if I were shopping for batteries at Sam's
Club, the single facet used in that category--price--wouldn't be
helpful to me, because I shop for batteries by brand, which is a
facet that they didn't use.

In general, I'm a big fan of faceted classification both for
narrowing large search result sets and for informing navigation. But
it's not appropriate for every instance.

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Posted from the new ixda.org


14 Oct 2009 - 9:09pm
Tom Patros

My gut says don't bother with facets if you have less than five. Any
fewer and I think you're better off with a more basic tagging

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Posted from ixda.org (via iPhone)

15 Oct 2009 - 3:55am
Kim van Poelgeest

It is especially useful when there are many different types of
criteria, such as price-range, maximum attendees, duration, themes,
which are somehow linked to one another with many article, product or
data entries.

Especially useful:
1. when there are many criteria in different fields
2. similar data entries with subtle differences (hard to scan or
filter requiring advanced user knowledge)
3. if you have a very specific set of requirements for a user (e.g.
behaves like a non-linear wizard)

I am using faceted navigation for a client who has products with many
criteria, also including 'themes', which can be expanded and
interconnected endlessly.

As you point out yourself, it may be overkill with only 2 facets. But
if it's about combining parameters, the technique itself could be

There's a good webshop in the Netherlands using multilevel facets
which is an interesting approach. You can remove breadcrumbs if
you've dug deep enough.

1283 1285 4854 5260 7373 3139/index.html

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Posted from the new ixda.org

15 Oct 2009 - 5:42am
nicole Weber

check out the master thesis of Moritz Stefaner about VISUAL TOOLS FOR


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Posted from the new ixda.org

15 Oct 2009 - 9:02am

On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 12:28 PM, suze ingram <suze.ingram at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> When would you use faceted navigation in your designs?

In design patterns, this question is addressed. For instance, in Quince,
below is what we have for the Faceted Navigation
The Problem is the first thing to consider--if that's not the problem your
facing, that pattern probably doesn't apply. The Context further qualifies
with other considerations that should help you decide if you should use it.
Then you can also look at the Rationale and even Implementation and
Examples to further get a sense of whether it applies. I'm not saying our
pattern is perfect--we have a suggestions mechanism in Quince to
collaboratively improve our patterns; I'm just saying that design patterns
do address this question if done well.

I totally disagree with the notion that it depends on # of facets, and in
fact, tag is a facet--you can use this with just the tag facet and it works


People want to find something but usually have only a fuzzy idea of some
parameters in mind.

Help people gradually find what they want by providing them with various
facets that they can use to filter a result set.

- You have a large set of information, too large for a person to easily
sift through without being able to narrow it down.
- Your information shares a set of common facets that they could be
filtered by.
- The facets you have are easily understandable by the users and are
something they would likely want to filter based on.
- Your users don’t prefer to navigate this kind of information in another



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