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i was wondering if you have any best practices or theories about the sequence of features within the filter. And if it is more intuitive to show the amount of products that are within that specific feature, or leave them away. So for example:

Version 1: Sorted on most products & Version 2: Sorted alphabetically
'Merk' means brand, and this is the first filter shown after the normal navigation with categories

Version sorted on most products Version sorted alphabetically

And the other option is to not show the amount of products that are within the selected brand, like this:

Version 1: Sorted on most product & Version 2: Sorted alphabetically

enter image description here enter image description here

I've got my own theories on this, but i was wondering what you guys are thinking!

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A user typically chooses to filter by brand because they want to see products from that brand, regardless of how many products there are. Listing the brands in alphabetical order is therefore sensible because it makes it easier to find the desired brand in the list, compared to presenting them in a random order. It is still useful to know how many products each brand has but I don't think that is the primary driver in most situations.

However, it might make sense to list some other filters in order of the number products. This might be the case for something like colour or pattern where a user isn't necessarily looking for a specific option but is discovering what options are available. It that case, presenting the options that offer the most products first is probably best.

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What to Sort On

There are a lot of ways a list can be sorted for users. The trick to picking the right one is to analyze the task the user is faced. In your case, the users are looking for potential purchases and want to narrow the search on some criteria. So the question becomes, what criteria do users use to select purchases and eliminate possibilities?

You may have to research your own specific users, but, off hand, I’ve never heard of anyone thinking something like, “I need to buy a bar stool, so I should go with whatever brand has the most (or least or intermediate number of) products.” Thus, sorting by number of products probably provides no benefit to the users, and only makes it harder to find the right choice on some other dimension.

On the other hand, I have heard of customers thinking, in effect, “I need to buy a bar stool, and I know I like Hay’s style.” Thus, sorting brands alphabetically probably provides a benefit to the users when there’s brand awareness, loyalty, and/or reputation.

In general sorting alphabetically is good when, in the task, the user already knows the name of specific item they’re looking for. Then they can quickly scan the list to select the item they want.

Other Dimensions, Other Options

There may be other criteria that are relevant in your case which you could sort brands on, such as length of warranty, quality of service, customer ranking, or popularity, but these probably should be distinct dimensions of the products in a faceted search, rather than confounded with brand.

However, you could, of course, have a little of both in the same list by placing a few selected brands at the top of the list, and then follow it by a divider then a complete alphabetical list. This is a good strategy when a few brands account for most of the filtering actions (check your logs), but you still want to provide a filtering capability on all possibilities.

Showing Number of Products

This is a good practice regardless of the criterion or sort order because it helps the user anticipate what additional filtering they may need to do. Seeing that choosing Vitra will result in 2334 possibilities prepares the user to pick another criterion to make the search manageable. Seeing that, after picking Muuto, the number of products with 2+ years of warranty is 0 tells users not to even bother picking that (and may lead to re-thinking the choice of Muuto before going any further).

Yes, it’s good practice, but not critically necessary. If updating such numbers results in unacceptable server delays, then maybe you’re better off without it. Users will see how many products they get once they click the criterion.

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If you are going to have the option to sort on it then display it.

Put quantity in a separate column with a header. Have the header show the sort column and sort order.

Let them change the sort by clicking the header.

That wrap of the (2) to the second line Design Home Stockholm is bad.
Should have a 2 in a separate column top aligned.

  • Do you have any examples of webshops that are doing so? – JurS Sep 29 '14 at 7:55
  • @JurS What is not clear? – paparazzo Sep 29 '14 at 12:33
  • I like to see some examples of other webshops doing it :). Two columns next to each other demands relative much space, so i was curious how other webshops are dealing with this. – JurS Sep 29 '14 at 14:32
  • But other webshops don't have the same data. Put it on your data and see how it works. What space demand? It will still just be as wide as the widest row. – paparazzo Sep 29 '14 at 14:38

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