Users have strong expectations for how your website should work. Whatever their needs, they want a solution, and they want it fast. One way you can direct them to the perfect product is through filters.
There is a balance between using too many product filters and not using enough. You’re looking for that perfect combination that keeps people on your page instead of them bouncing away to a competitor’s site.
In a study by McKinsey, researchers uncovered that 75% of Americans have changed the way they shop due to the pandemic as well as what brands they frequent. While some of the shift is due to adjusted priorities, some is out of frustration with brands not sensing new needs or making shopping intuitive.
User-friendly filters are your first line of defense against high bounce rates. Here are some clear do’s and don’ts to ensure your filters are the absolute best they can be.
Do: Offer Contextual Filters
If you sell a variety of products, you’ll need different filters for different types. A clothing piece might provide color and size options, while bath products look at scent and size. Think about each product and the filters applicable to just that item.
You should also cross-reference and figure out what products share attributes to save customers time as they compare different varieties.
Best Buy has contextual filters on its products. Someone looking for a new laptop cares about the memory, processing speed, screen size, and price. On the other hand, a person shopping for a new refrigerator wants to know the cubic size and finishes. The filter panel on the left changes depending on what product category the user browses.
Don’t: Ignore Your Search Feature
It’s easy to get so caught up in creating amazing filters that you forget the beginning of the user journey. When someone lands on your website, what are the words they use to search for a product?
If you aren’t sure, dig into your website analytics and study trending keywords online. See what phrases your competition ranks for on Google. Once you have some words in mind, think about the natural language patterns of your customers.
A new mom looking for a co-sleeping solution for her infant might search with words like “sleep safely with baby” instead of the term “co-sleeping.” Make sure results take the user to the right selection of products no matter what phrasing they use.
Do: Input Common Selections
If you sell a product for a specific model or use, then know the possible criteria and add it to a drop-down menu. Having pre-selected options allows the user to choose what applies to them quickly. You save the person time, and they are more likely to complete the sale rather than abandon the shopping cart.
Rvinyl knows people want to save time and money with their pre-cut window tinting films. They offer drop-down selections where you choose the make and model of your vehicle. They even have the site visitor punch in the year of their car.
The process is intuitive and pulls up the exact product the user needs to complete the project. They offer a few options, including a universal kit you can cut to size yourself.
Don’t: Offer Unsuitable Recommendations
Have you ever searched for a product on a site and gotten a bunch of recommendations that make zero sense? Don’t aggravate your users by giving them unsuitable suggestions. Program your search feature to say there are no products that match rather than suggesting entirely inappropriate ones.
Offer a live chat feature on your site so users can reach out if they can’t find what they’re looking for. It is much better to guide your customers to a specific product than to send them to a page that only frustrates them.
Do: Use Categories First
Don’t just allow a search without any context. That’s a recipe for the user to receive unsuitable content. Instead, separate your products into distinct categories. When the person lands on the category page, the filters appear.
Samsung sells everything from cell phones to televisions. They don’t allow you to jump right into a filtering situation when you land on their home page. Instead, they provide categories to guide you to the right area of their site. If you choose televisions, the filter options are much different than if you choose appliances.
Don’t: Forget the Importance of Placement
There have been numerous studies on where filter bars should go. On most e-commerce sites, it is in the left sidebar. The left bar location is where people are used to seeing options for their search. However, Baymard conducted a study and claimed a horizontal filter outperforms any other placement.
Your customers may be different from other brands. Try various arrangements and conduct A/B tests to see which your target audience prefers.
Do: Truncate Options
Do you have a large number of filters, and scrolling becomes endless? Choose when it’s time to truncate the options. For example, you may have 50 color options for a t-shirt. Show the top four or five and use an arrow and the word “more” to indicate there are additional ones available.
You can also show the color selections in a pop-up window. If the category is short, such as offering three sizes, then you may not need to shorten the field.
Put Yourself in the User’s Shoes
Look at your site through the eyes of your customers. What elements work well to filter products? Get feedback from your top clients. Ask them what they love and hate about your filters. Look for ways to make the user experience as simple as possible, and watch your conversion rates soar.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.