Search filter sins Search filter sins

Search filter sins

I haven't purchased a backpack since... ever actually. Until now, I've been using hand-me-downs and whatever my dad found at the charity shop. My company-branded backpack sees the most use right now, though only because it has a dedicated laptop sleeve, unlike my comparatively tougher Eddie Bauer pack (one of said charity shop finds). The old polyurethane coating on that one has always been a bit sticky, however.

Eddie Bauer Backpack

Thus, I've spent hours trawling through websites to find the backpack. The ensuing experience resulted in using search filters god awful enough that I remember the filters more than the products.

As a result, here is a compilation of Search Filter Sins.

Using sliders for large numerical ranges

Ever tried using a mobile device to select a range from 0-100 on a slider that goes from 0-2000? Yeah, it's practically impossible. Please provide two input boxes from a lower to an upper range instead.

Using groupings for numerical ranges

This isn't too bad if the groupings make sense, but it is hard enough on its own to guess what your users want. Let them choose.

Blocking the user from selecting multiple filters at a time

This is one of the worst Search Filter Sins. Lots of backpacks are out there and if I'm using a filter it means I know what I want. In these cases, if a user wants to filter down to three colours, two sizes, and a certain price range, the user has to wait 6 times before getting their desired results. Sometimes this is so infuriating I leave the site entirely.

The best site I used filtered the products in the background asynchronously without preventing the user from adding new filters. Alternatively acceptable is filtering once an "Apply Filter" (or some similar) button is pressed.

Not providing enough tags to filter by

Backpacks, like other things, have many features. Are you telling me that you, a backpack company, won't let me filter down by features at all? You must be joking.

If you are creating search filters for a class of products, please add suitable filters for features that differentiate products.

For example, some useful tags/filters for backpacks are:

  • Level of water resistance
  • Outer bungee cord
  • Water bottle holder
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Daisy chains
  • Bike helmet attachment

Sadly, this often occurs as product data typically lacks such details.

Being slow

Test your site on a mobile device from at least three years ago. If it takes more than a few seconds to select or apply filters, there is a problem. During my investigation, I found a site that was beautiful aesthetically, but frustration from the lack of speed replaced any appreciation for its appearance. I'd much rather use an ugly website that works.

Not logically grouping tags

Please do not throw all your tags together like spaghetti; this makes the user filter the filters.

Tags not being correctly applied to all matching items

If a user filters by X, and not all items that fit X are displayed, those items might as well not exist to the user.

Not tagging an item with all applicable tags

If not all items are appropriately tagged then the user must either manually filter all items themselves or remain unaware of the items' existence.

Future sins to be added.