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User Interface Implementations of Faceted Browsing : Comments

By Mike Padilla

April 29, 2008


Rob Brooks

April 30, 2008 2:29 AM

I’d like to see more implementations of faceting that allow exclusionary choices.

Here’s an example of something I came across recently – I was looking for a new external hard drive. I knew the size (500Gb) and the connection (USB), but I didn’t know the other ways it was classified. So off I went to a variety of suppliers and searched under Hard Drives for 500Gb USB models.

Was I after an “External Desktop Drive” or “Portable Hard Drive”? No idea. What I did know was that I wasn’t after a “2.5in Laptop Drive” or a “Network Storage Device”, but there was no way to tell the site that. I had to search both categories individually and make my own comparisions by swapping back and forth.

You could look at this as a failure in the classification structure of the site, which it is to some extent, but this is a use case that shouldn’t be ignored. Consider Amazon – they’ve got comprehensive and well-structured categories, but sometimes when I’m looking for a book I want to see every category except the children’s books.

Cara Pinle

April 30, 2008 4:20 PM

I see some websites place a “Keywords” input form within the facet filtering form. It makes more flexisible to users if they cannot find the words which suplied by the website. Also it helps if you don’t know the product name but you know it what for. In this case, the website must carry exhaustive information in each category or each product to be able to give the results.

Paul Rouke

May 3, 2008 4:05 AM

Rob, I fully agree with your comments on allowing exclusionary choices. I have recently been commenting on an article on E-consultancy regarding multi-faceted navigation, and the importance of allowing you to specify, for instance, different formats when searching for music on Amazon, which are part of the same facet.

Standard multi-faceted navigation only allows to choose 1 format, where I wanted to see both box sets and compilations.

This also applies to price bracket filtering – I may not want to see all products costing £5-£10, instead I may want to see the products which cost between £5 and £15. Again traditional multi-faceted navigation only allows you to specify 1 filter within a facet, although there are examples, such as on Amazon, that once you have specified a price bracket you can then free text enter your min and max values, which is far more flexible when pricing is concerned. This point references Cara’s point on input forms to a degree.

One of the challenges as we evolve our e-commerce platform is continually providing our clients customers with the most intelligent and learnable ways in which to navigate through huge product sets with faceted browsing, and in addition how tagging content can be used to provide an additional and user centered navigational method.

Louise Hewitt

May 6, 2008 3:28 AM


A good article, and I agree that faceted navigtion techniques are happily becoming more commonplace. Like many techniques, as users become more adept at employing them we will be able to extend the complexity (and therefore effectiveness) of them over time.

Just one observation though – as supposed ‘usability’ professionals, shouldn’t we apply a little of our own principles to our own creation: I’m afraid that I found your pdf document too small to view easily online and was not committed enough to print it out. Sorry, but I didn’t read it.

Looking forward to more observations,


Vincent M

July 14, 2008 8:33 AM

Excellent read. Though, the article really could use additional visuals to accompany descriptive explanations.

Brian Henkel

August 27, 2008 2:23 PM

Fabulous article. A real blessing to my research. Thank you.

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