We’ve been talking a lot about faceted search lately. And when talking to web developers about what faceted search is, a common response emerged:
“Boy, faceted search is swell, especially for eCommerce solutions. The only problem is that I don’t build eCommerce Websites!”
Actually, it’s the opposite of shucks. The beauty of faceted search is that it can be applied to anything. Name something and I bet we can find a way to (logically!) apply faceted search.
Faceted Search and Groceries
This example was inspired by an actual conversation with a web developer. We were ping-ponging back and forth about the utility of faceted search. The web developer posited that eCommerce websites are the only venue in which faceted search works. That’s simply not true. Outside of eCommerce, there’s faceted search I know you’ve encountered in your life:
It’s a necessity of life. You walk into a store, list in hand, a cart with a squeaky wheel in the other. You have a few items on your list, the first of which is chicken.
Instead of walking up and down the aisles until you stumble into a chicken leg, you navigate to the section that deals specifically with meat. Off to the meat section you go. When you arrive, you start looking for chicken, so you walk past the pork and beef until arriving at chicken. You are not too picky, but you know you want something that’s organic and antibiotic free. And after you focus your choices, you are left with a finite selection of items.
From a warehouse of toilet paper, breads, cheeses, and deodorant, you’ve narrowed down your search significantly. Drilling down to the specific item and finding exactly what you needed makes you a happy shopper. It’s also a beautiful real-life example of faceted search.
Making Immense Decisions Easier
Grocery stores are built to help you narrow down your choices and present products in a logical and easy to digest manner. Thanks to shelvings, signs, and aisles, this is somewhat simple to accomplish in a physical space. But online, there’s a better way. A faceted search way.
To see an online version of the grocery store example, check out what Giant Eagle put together with their grocery list builder. It’s quite rudimentary. You can’t combine facets (for instance, if you wanted to see items that were only organic and local), but it’s a start.
Another faceted search list creator can be found at Zip List. They do some of the heavy lifting for you. They let you build lists by typing in an item, and then applying some facets to that item automatically. When you type in “Milk” it’s added to the dairy section. Smart stuff.
What’s even smarter, is they group items by recipe. If you add recipes to your list you’ll be able to filter by the items on a recipe-by-recipe basis. This keeps you focused and makes your shopping strip streamlined.
It’s a solid example of a non-eCommerce way to implement faceted search. Helping an audience narrow down decisions and make logical choices without being overwhelmed.
Faceted search can be applied to so many different verticals, which is what makes it not only an outstanding tool, but also an important one. Building a better, more searchable Internet begins by harnessing the power of faceted search.
Do you examples of faceted search you want us to talk about? Questions about faceted search? Have a story to share? leave a message in the comments!
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