Faceted Filtering

Mike Padilla has a very good article on how to implement faceted filtering to help users narrow down their search choices. It’s not helped by kicking off with one of the most worst-constructed sentences I’ve seen this year (could have done with some stringent gobbledeygookery filters):

“A user interface that optimally supports faceted filtering must expose its robust functionality in a way that expresses affordances, controls complexity, and follows existing standards that have been pre-established across the web.”

But fortunately it quickly lapses back into plain English. The article is strongest on explaining how to set up a friendly user-interface, and how that relates to the back-end search using the facets, in particular the logic and usability of the “and/or” search logic. There’s no help, unfortunately, on how to identify the prime facets that you want to use for the filters, probably because Mike’s focus is on internet sites and commerce applications, where the shoppers’ mental distinctions map to product attributes fairly straightforwardly. This is not so straightforward when applying faceted filtering to enterprise knowledge assets.

But a nice addition to the literature, and thanks to James Robertson for the link.

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