Despite the ubiquity of filters in e-commerce — all of the top-50 US e-commerce sites allow users to filter product lists — Baymard Institute reveals that the underlying filtering logic found that 32% of e-commerce sites downright misaligns with users’ expectations of how filters work, and how users even look for and evaluate products online.
Product Lists & Filtering usability testing consistently shows that filters are often wrongly implemented as mutually exclusive that is - users can only select one filter value (e.g., “Blue”) at a time of a given filter type (e.g., “Color”).
This is observed to make it very difficult for users to narrow down product lists and “focus the list” on products they’re
interested in purchasing.
When it comes to filtering logic the filtering values should, in general, not be mutually exclusive within the same filter type.
In the case of Macy, the image above shows the classic example of the application of multiple filter values. When another ‘Dress Occasion’ filter is added it perfectly implements the new filter without a mess.
During testing, filtering values wrongly implemented as being mutually exclusive caused site abandonments as the test subjects couldn’t establish an overview of the products that matched their unique set of product requirements.
Furthermore, usability test sessions revealed that this is a common user behaviour, with 45% of users trying to apply multiple filter values of the same filter type at some point during testing.
According to research from UPS, 57% of shoppers abandon carts to comparison shop.
How Are Consumers Comparison Shopping?
While the number of ways consumers are using the Internet to comparison shop are endless and unique for each person, there are three core methods to consider…
- Review sites.
- Comparison engines.
- Exploring your alternatives and competitors (via Google, typically).
Whether it’s an entire site dedicated to product reviews or something as simple as product reviews on Amazon, consumers want to know what their peers think of products they’re interested in.
Comparison shopping engines curate product information and display that information to consumers searching for relevant queries. Retailers can submit their product information, including price, shopping options, product guarantees, etc. Consumers can then compare all of their options and choose the retailer that offers the best deal.
Finally, consumers will put in the effort to explore alternatives to your product. Some will only do a simple “Product X alternatives” Google search, while others will be willing to make a list of top alternatives and manually conduct a full competitor analysis.
Top institutes reveal that 32% of sites fail to allow users to combine multiple filter values for at least some of the available filter types.
In this article, we’ll discuss the test findings from our Product Lists & Filtering usability study related to how users select filters and the required filtering logic, including:
How not allowing users to combine filter values makes it almost impossible to use filters to narrow product lists
How allowing users to combine filter values enables them to adapt the product list to their specific needs.
How ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ logic should be applied to filter types and values.
The Issues with Applying Multiple Filter Values When Filter Values Are Mutually Exclusive
When filtering values within the same filter type are (wrongly) implemented as mutually exclusive it forces users to go through a needlessly demanding filtering flow:
- At the unfiltered product list, the user first has to apply a filter value
- Then the user must look through the products in the filtered list, and
- Memorize the interesting products for filter value 1.
- Then the user must de-select filter value 1 and wait for the page to reload to see the prior product list without any filters,
- Then apply filter value 2 at the now unfiltered product list,
- Look through the products in this new filtered list, and
- Memorize the interesting products for filter value 2.
- Finally, the user must now mentally combine the two memorized product matches to get an overview of the products relevant to their needs
And that is when the user wants to apply just two filtering values – imagine how complicated this gets when they are interested in more than two filtering values of the same type! Unsurprisingly, this severely obstructs their users’ filtering (and thus product finding) abilities.
The Process of Applying Multiple Filter Values When the Values Aren’t Mutually Exclusive
Now, compare the process required when filter values are mutually exclusive to the process when the values in the filter group aren’t mutually exclusive:
- At the unfiltered product list, the user applies the desired combination of filtering values upfront
- The user can now look through the products in the complete filtered list.
And that’s regardless of how many filtering values the user is interested in.
David Moth, Econsultancy says-
“It’s logical that if a customer is too narrow with their product demands then their search risks returning zero products, but unfortunately shoppers don’t necessarily think logically.A search that yields no results is likely to frustrate the user and may cause them to shop elsewhere, so it‘s a better idea to only allow shoppers to filter on options that you know are available.”
Allowing multiple selections in the same category will benefit those with the comparison shopping mindset.As David explains, this is important because they may want to remove a filter to widen their selection-
Typically, this is done in one of two ways…
- In-line (e.g. a checkmark or a greyed box).
- Above the filtering options.
Neither is inherently better or worse. What matters is that the filters applied are clear and easy to remove with a click or two.
Source- Baymard,conversionxl ,Ups.com,Myntra