For clarity, I'm referring to the faded numbers in parenthesis.

enter image description here

My reasoning is that if a user wants to filter his selection, he will do it based on his/her need and not based on the number of results the filter offers.

I see a good thing in offering clarity of the effect of the filter, but a downside in the noise it adds.

Looking into some of the big players (Amazon, Ebay, Wayfair, Walmart), it seems that this practice has faded away.

Is it safe to say that this is not a necessity anymore or am I missing something?


3 Answers 3


It's not strictly necessary. After all, you can always select your filters, and then look to see how many results you've got.

That being said, I find it nice to have. Let's say I'm looking for something in the price range of 100-199. But the parenthetical numbers tell me that there is only one item in that range, while there are 10 in the 50-99 range, and 10 more in the 200-299 range. I may have thought I really wanted to stay in the 100-199 range, but I'll probably widen my selection right away. That saves me time when compared to selecting a filter that only results in one result, and then going back to refine the filter. (Especially if it takes a while for the filter to apply, or for the results to load.)

I find that the added noise is minimal when compared to the small, but not insignificant, benefit.

  • I definatly agree that it's nice to have. It is true that you can find ways to use that information. My dillema is if the lack of that information would affect any major KPI of an e-commerce business. While the noise is minimal, removing a few 'nice to have' elements may result in a much cleaner experience. Thanks for the answer!
    – Mihai
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 7:17

In addition what Doug has mentioned, having the respective count of items is good for a couple of other reasons. 1. Inventory checking - whether the individual counts add up to the total count. 2. Bad data in the filters - if 'London' and 'london' are two different filters, how many do they have combined, which is how it should be, the user will be able to calculate that.


Exploration vs Exploitation

1. Exploration

In context with e-commerce, sometimes users may or may not know what they are exactly looking for. They are in exploration mode and want to gather as much insights as possible. As a result Filters aid users with information to make informed decision.

2. Exploitation

In this scenario, Users don't need filters as they already know what they want to buy. The path is very straight forward and the decision is already made.

enter image description here

The above screenshot is from Airbnb. The bars showcase the number of listings in that price range. This helps users get a general perspective of the pricing available to them to make informed decisions.

  • Regarding point number 2 (Exploitation): you mentioned that "users do not need filters because they already know what they want to buy". Well, I find that inaccurate. I actually mostly use filters when I have a clear idea of what i am looking for, and I may or may not use them when I'm still open and want to Explore. So for example if I want to buy a pair of black running shoes that is within the range of $60-$100 (clear idea of what i'm looking for), I use filters of Color: Black, Type: Running, Price $60-$100.
    – Mo'ath
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 15:00
  • Shouldn't your scenario be still under exploration since you haven't locked on a product yet? For exploitation, I know I want to buy Apple iPhone X. So I need the website to be as fast as possible to enable me to buy that product in terms of checkout and delivery process.
    – tridip1931
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 4:24
  • 1
    Looking at your conversation, depends how strictly you define exploitation and 'locking in a product'. Based on the Apple iPhone X example, what if I haven't chosen between the 64gb and 128gb models? Do I need to have all product specifications in order to call it "Exploitation"? I would tend to say yes, but I think it's a marginal behavior. Back to your answer, the AirBnB is a great example, but I see it as a fancy, useful filter system, and not necesserly, specifically, appliable to an e-commerce filter.
    – Mihai
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 7:30
  • @tridip Even if I want to buy a black iPhone x 128gb for example. If I'm on Amazon, I would still search and/or filter to find it. Think of filtering here as a faster way to get to the item you are looking for. I don't agree to the statement that filters are not needed when users know what they want. A good example of exploitation vs exploration would be buying a sandwich that I tried before and I know it is good versus trying a new one that I'm not sure if it is good or not. I agree to Mihai point regarding it being a marginal behavior not an absolute one though.
    – Mo'ath
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 1:11
  • Yesss! I love the sandwich example. I may have used "not needed" casually but the sandwich example conveys what I really wanted to say.
    – tridip1931
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 3:01

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