Site navigation using faceted filters

What is user experience and why it's important

As our posts indicate, we're strong advocates of presenting a considered, crafted digital experience to your end users. UX, or user experience, is shorthand for discussing the many contributing factors that make up the whole of how your target audience (customers) experience your digital offerings (website, e-commerce store, mobile app, etc).

Similar to an in-store experience, where the layout, furnishings, fitout and staff all work in tandem to welcome prospective customers and clients and convert them to happy, paying buyers; factors influencing their digital experience include: visuals, navigation menus, functionality and copy. The more appealing the visuals, the easier it is to navigate your site and find items of interest, the more streamlined and robust the functionality and the more effective the copy, the more likely your site visitor will become a lead and/or a customer.

Navigation as an element of user experience

While there may be many factors influencing the overall user experience, navigation and how a user finds content is crucial. Menus are the primary mechanism by which users browse around your site. Incorporating this standard navigation model of menus, with additional navigation mechanisms, has resulted in the evolution of 'faceted filters'. 

Popular in e-commerce sites, enabling navigation using 'faceted filters', is highly effective in letting users qickly narrow down to the product they're after. For example:

  • the user is after a new TV;
  • TV's have many facets: size, make & model, display (LCD, LED), etc
  • exposing all these facets allows the user to make multiple selections in one step, instead of stepping through each filter one-by-one.

A common way to display faceted filters, which we praised in our review of Harvey Norman's new e-commerce site. 

If grocery stores could work like faceted filters

Which brings us to this niftily produced ad, where the freezer section dynamically updates (as would a webpage) based on the filters the customer cares about i.e. pizza, real cheese, organic dough, meat, etc:

Source: http://whitneyhess.com/blog/2009/11/16/faceted-filtering-in-the-real-world

For more on what the physical world would be like if it behaved like the digital world: a video of a store checkout

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