Recently, Office Depot redesigned their search user interface, adding attribute-based filtering and creating a more dynamic, interactive user experience. Unfortunately, Office Depot’s interaction design misses some key points, making their new search user interface less usable and, therefore, less effective. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Office Depot site presents us with an excellent case study for demonstrating some of the important best practices for designing filters for faceted search results, as follows:
Decide on your filter value-selection paradigm—either drill-down or parallel selection.
Provide an obvious and consistent way to undo filter selection.
Always make all filters easily available.
At every step in the search workflow, display only filter values that correspond to the available items, or inventory.
Provide filter values that encompass all items, or the complete inventory.
By following the attribute-based filtering design best practices this article describes, you can ensure your customers can take care of business without having to spend time struggling with your search user interface. Read More
What is the difference between filtering and sorting for a search query? Any SQL developer would be happy to tell you that a sort translates to a SQL ORDER BY statement, while a SQL WHERE clause performs a filter. However, for most users of consumer-facing ecommerce applications, the difference between a sort and a filter presents a mystery they understand dimly, if at all. The distinction between sorting and filtering blurs, because of a phenomenon I’ve called filtering by sorting, which leads to all sorts of interesting search user interface implications. Read More
Page layout forms the foundation in presenting search results. Your layout decisions for search results pages will have tremendous impact on the user experience for your entire site. Choosing the right width for search results is important, and the optimal width for search results may be a great deal narrower than some people using big monitors would believe.
To see for yourself the narrow divide between great and barely usable search results layouts, take a look at Figure 1, which shows the primary gateway to the Starbucks shopping area. When it comes to page layout, this Starbucks search results page shows very poor design choices. At a screen resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, most of what you see is the left margin of the layout and a large logo. Read More