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Best Practice for Multifaceted Navigation

11th September, 2008

Whether you are more familiar with the term guided navigation, attribute filtering, multi-attribute navigation or guided search (there are more although these are some of the main industry terms used) this type of advanced navigation can provide visitors to your e-commerce store/online booking system/content rich product site with an invaluable user experience – if implemented correctly.

What is multifaceted navigation?

In short this is an advanced navigation method where shoppers can filter out large sets of products or content by a variety of product attributes (sizes, colours, features, price range, specifications).
An example of multifaceted navigation on Dabs.com

User benefits of multifaceted navigation

  1. they can choose to be specific about the products which they are being shown
  2. your users are empowered by the way you allow them to dynamically manage your product database
  3. users can compare products by specific features, for instance when looking for a TV you can specify to see only TV’s that are 1080p and that are 46 inches
  4. your users can shop how they are used to in a good high street store. ie. they tell the salesperson that they have so much to spend and are looking for particular product features or sizes, and they are then shown the products which suit their requirements
  5. your user can find the products specific to their needs in a more efficient way, speeding up their browsing journey in what may well be a small space of time they have to shop online
  6. your users don’t need to to visit multiple product pages and read each product description to know whether it matches their requirements
  7. long, scrolling product listings pages (pre-product page) are eliminated as they can filter out the products which don’t match their needs
  8. combined with the more widely used sorting techniques (price hi-low, price low-hi, latest, bestsellers, closest to your location ie. for a hotel) faceted browsing providers users with all the tools they need to hone in on the products/items which they are in a position to purchase
  9. potentially confusing and bewildering amounts of products or items can be managed in a way which allows the visitor to focus their shopping experience on just the items which are suitable to them
  10. users will reflect positively on the browsing experience with your website, in turn reflecting less favourably on your competitors who don’t provide this type of advanced navigation

Best practice advice

Typical web applications that benefit from multifaceted navigation

Examples of multifaceted navigation

Multifaceted navigation on Argos.co.uk
Multifaceted navigation on Argos.co.uk
Multifacted navigation on Hotels.com
Multifaceted navigation on Hotels.com
Multifaceted navigation on Propertyfinder.com
Multifaceted navigation on Hotels.com
Multifaceted navigation on Uswitch.com
Multifaceted navigation on Uswitch.com
Multifaceted navigation on Skyscanner.net
Multifaceted navigation on Skyscanner.net

Examples of where multifaceted navigation would significantly enhance the user experience

Kodak, a site which would benefit from multi-faceted navigation
Kodak.com, a site which would benefit from multifaceted navigation
Curry\'s, a site that would benefit from multifaceted navigation
Currys.co.uk, a site which would benefit from multifaceted navigation
Homes4U website which would benefit from multifaceted navigation
Homes4U.co.uk, a site which would benefit from multifaceted navigation
MyTravel, a site that would benefit from multifaceted navigation
Mytravel.co.uk, a site which would benefit from multifaceted navigation

Advanced techniques to further enhance the users experience

Further reading on navigation techniques and best practice

What are your experiences of multifaceted navigation?

I would really like to hear about your experiences, both as users, faceted navigation providers and from people on the client side involved in implementing navigation methods.

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