User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The way I see it, filters on a results page are meant to refine, not to find. If users want to make 10 selections to narrow down to one result, that is what navigation is for.

My question to you is: How granular do filters need to get? 1 level, 2 levels, 3, 4...?


Product Category > Product Type > Brand > Model > Color


Product Category > Product Type


share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It appears you already have a preference for the master pattern of what is called faceted search (also called faceted navigation or guided navigation).

Faceted search addresses the universal need to narrow. The infrastructure for faceted search enables a tighter relationship between search and browse, allowing real-time refinement of the results set.

It's focus is on the discriminatory power to clarify intent and refine results following the initial query, which offsets the need for up-front personalization, advanced search, or parametric search.

Instead of thinking about a specific number of levels ~ think about your search as using adaptive facets:

  1. Broad, limited facets after the initial search query. (In most instances, this is limited to the top four or five most heavily populated values.)
  2. Rich facets upon selecting a category (There may be an abundance.)

Regarding your magic number...unfortunately there isn't a silver bullet for all taxonomies.

You must consider the size of your results set in order to determine the necessary granularity. A massive results set benefits from the ability to highlight the data structure and draw users into filtering.

As shown below, adaptive facets allow the controls to conform to the content as users shift between categories and drills down within collections.

enter image description here

Adaptive facets are also necessary for handling a live update of a results set, as shown in the following Volkswagen example.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.