Faceted search is a powerful feature in modern search engines that makes it easy for users to find exactly what they need. This technology is a great feature for e-commerce site searches and other applications where it’s important to provide outside users with a streamlined search experience that can deliver customized results.
How Does Faceted Search Work?
Faceted search is based on structured data. Through guided navigation, searchers can use facets (or filters) to refine their queries. These facets are sets of independent attributes determined by the administrator to help classify the entries found within a searchable collection. This is extremely beneficial, especially compared to a more rigid classification scheme like a taxonomy that corresponds to only a single top-level attribute.
Faceted search vs. single taxonomies
While single taxonomies force users to choose a top-level group, faceted classification gives searchers a more flexible approach to finding specific items. For example, a single taxonomy for a dog food company might choose a top-level attribute that corresponds to either the type of dog food (dry, wet, etc.) or the type of dog (small dogs, big dogs, senior dogs, etc.), but not both. That means a taxonomy based on types of dog foods will still force a user to sift through results for all types of dogs without narrowing down the selections even further.
Faceted search can mark these search attributes as first-class facets. Users are now able to use a variety of filters to refine searches, whether these queries involve the type of dog food, type of dog, size of product, price, or any other factor that could narrow down a search. These stackable filters offer results that are much more relevant to a user with a highly-specific need instead of overwhelming them with too many unrelated products.
Is faceted search the right fit?
When dealing with a significant amount of possible search results (whether from a database, on a website or across multiple data sources), adding faceted search can help a user find what they’re looking for quicker. It may not be the right choice for smaller data sets.
On e-commerce sites, faceted navigation can help a user search for a product and quickly narrow down what they’re looking for.
Implementing faceted search
When implementing faceted search, it’s important to make sure the number of facets shown to the searcher is appropriate. Too few can be limiting in how specific a user can narrow down their search results, however too many facets can present a user with too many choices and not enough results within each facet category.
Before you add faceted search to your application, you’ll want to consider how you’ll be identifying and classifying the facets themselves. Within a large data set, what are the categories, filters, or “facets” that can help narrow down search results? For enterprise applications, this may start with file type (document, image, etc.) For an e-commerce site, this might mirror the ways that product would be organized in-store (category, color, size. etc.).
Faceted Site Search for Your Business
Thunderstone’s Parametric Search Appliance provides you with a highly customizable e-commerce site search system with faceted search, autocomplete and other capabilities that help you deliver relevant results to your users.
Parametric search (also called attribute-enhanced search) helps users narrow down their field of search to increase the chances of finding relevant information. It provides context to results that are based on unstructured information, and it allows the administrator or user to sort results in the most meaningful way.