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The 1st accordion filter on the search results page is "Select Categories", which is sorted by relevance. The 2nd accordion filter is "Filter Brands", which is also sorted by relevance. Both display a top 20 with a "More" link if there are more categories or brands. What is the best practice for this scenario? Should the brands list be sorted alphabetically instead for easier usability?

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  1. Assuming that your definition of relevance is the same as your users and
  2. Assuming that relevance becomes less accurate as you display more and more results then

I would certainly give the user an option of displaying the options alphabetically. I would consider to have the link state what comes next and let the users switch back to order by relevance.

Things to look at:

  • What percentage of searches involve categories not in the TOP 20?
  • Are you certain you can't display ALL your categories in div and allow your users to switch to alphabetical ordering if they so desire?
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Yes.

The best approach I could think "out of the box" would be to:

  • Show the most popular brand/categories based on evidence in order to increase the chance that users find what they want without further search.
  • Show them in alphabetical order for better scannability.
  • Add a "More..." link and redirect to a page to see them all including a filter (as you've mentioned)

I can think at least in one exception: if the content you are showing is not predictable to the user, so they'll just browse and not search. If they already expect to find something, you should order "that something list" alphabetically to improve scannability and let them find it ASAP.

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If most popular brands are not more than 5 or 6 items, then show the alphabetic order below but add a search bar to filter Brand names

Always label each section with good text so user knows what he is doing

Here are my visual solutions

search filter

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