Product Filters: Learning from the Top Brands How to Improve Ecommerce User Experience

Product filters are a great tool for narrowing down the search when looking for a specific product. But how to make sure they really help, rather than confuse users? Study the best world practices to find out the most effective strategies concerning filters and adapt those that suit you most to build an ultimate user experience.

Why default filters are underperforming

Default filters do not always meet the specific needs of every ecommerce business. Some merchants face that filters are applied very slowly due to the extensive catalog size, causing a slow page loading. Others experience difficulties because the standard filters, such as color, size, product rating, availability, do not work well for the products they sell. But no matter what precisely the problems are, they all result in frustrating user experience.

So, if the default product filters your ecommerce platform provides fail to fully meet your business needs and provide quality UX, let's look at world practices to learn how to improve them.

Why is it worth improving the users' filtering experience?

Let's see why it is worth improving product filtering in the first place. Clear, relevant, and seamlessly working filters help customers find products faster and easier, resulting in better UX and higher customer satisfaction. And happy customers are much more likely to come back to your website. Also, advanced search filters help customers to get better acquainted with your catalog and push them to make extra purchases. So the logic behind improving filters is rather straightforward.

But not all store owners treat product filters seriously enough. Indeed, the Baymard Institute has found that many ecommerce websites provide second-rate product filtering. Therefore, if you invest some time into fine-tuning filters on your site, providing a better UX, this could be one of the points on which you beat the competitors.

Product filter practices of top ecommerce sites

Now let's take a look at best practices from world-famous brands to get an insight on how to improve your product filters on Shopify, WooCommerce, or other ecommerce platforms you use for your store.

Ebay: category-specific filters

In contrast to universal filters, category-specific filters are specific to certain product types and do not suit other products. If not for them, it would be simply impossible to find the desired product among thousands of different products on Ebay.

Let's see how product-specific filters can be helpful. If you sell, let's say, electronics, you'll need a specific set of filters for laptops (see gif below), such as operating system, RAM size, screen size, processor, etc.
The example of category-specific filters
Category-specific filters for laptops on Ebay
But filters that are essential for laptops will not work for other electronics. For example, when searching for a camera, operating system and RAM size are not relevant. However, it makes perfect sense to include "maximum resolution" and "optical zoom" filters to make customer's search for cameras easier.

Therefore, when setting up filters, think of relevant category-specific filters for your products to improve user experience. If you're having doubts, what to include, try the following:

  • refer to product description and create filters based on product features

  • look for ideas on bigger ecommerce websites, such as Ebay

Amazon: thoughtful arrangement of filters

Another aspect to think of is the order of product filters. The most important filters should always be on top. For example, such ecommerce giants as Amazon, often show product rating on the very top, as customers often refer to the rating to weed out low-quality products among thousands of product listings.

Apart from filters on the left side, Amazon frequently includes a filter on the top of the search results page (that is a category-specific filter by the way). Like in the picture below, you can filter sofas by seating capacity.

For the quality user interface, make the most popular filters visible, by putting them on the top of the filters list or above the search results page, as Amazon does. Such a UI is familiar to users and they can easily use filters.
An example of thoughtfully arranged filters
Arrangement of filters on Amazon

Ralph Lauren: multiple filters

It's vital to give users the ability to apply multiple filters at the same time, as it helps to narrow down the product search in a few clicks. Let's imagine a customer looking for size 7 black boots on Ralph Lauren's website (see the gif below). Multiple filters allow drilling into the specific product in less than a minute, showing another example of a wonderful user experience.
Application of several filters at the same time
Multiple filters applied on Ralph Lauren website

Macy's: intuitive and clear search filters

For a seamless user experience, make sure that filters are intuitive to use and clear for users. Search filters are often located on the top of the search results page or the left-hand column, making them prominent and accessible.

An excellent example of search filters design is a minimalistic Macy's website. See how filter options are hidden under the drop-down list avoiding the page overload. But if you click on the plus button next to any of them, for example, "sleeve length," you will see available filter options: sleeveless, tank, short sleeve, ¾ sleeve, long sleeve.
The example of good filters design
Intuitive filters on Macy's website

Etsy: thematic filters

Thematic filters help users to find products that match specific themes. For instance, on Etsy, you can choose a dress by occasion — bachelorette party, LGBTQ pride, prom, etc. Think of adding thematic filters, if applicable to your products, to boost user experience even further.
Filters based on a certain theme
Thematic filters on Etsy

Walmart: natural language

Filters should use real-world language in order for users to understand them better. Think the way a customer would ask a shop assistant about a product in a department store. This is what natural language filters should be like. Needless to say that understandable filters directly affect the user experience.

If in doubt, try reading customers' reviews where they refer to a product they bought. For example, customers refer to medical uniforms as "scrubs" in reviews (see picture below).
The comment user left
Customer review on Walmart website
And this is precisely the product filter name when shopping for clothes at Walmart (in the picture below).
Filters at Walmart website
Filter using natural language

Victoria's Secret and Best Buy: mobile-friendly

It is essential to optimize your website for mobile users, as it is estimated that in 2021 53,9% of all sales in the US will be made via mobile devices. That is why filters, too, have to be mobile-friendly.

Victoria's Secret website can be seen as an example of an admirable user experience on mobile with fast and easy navigation. Because, when surfing the website, one of the fastest ways of navigation is to browse products by category, especially if categories are visualized with pictures, showing the product's style, as different types of sleepwear in the gif below. This could be particularly helpful for customers who have doubts about how to formulate a search query.
User experience on mobile
Different sleepwear categories on Victoria's Secret website
So, when fine-tuning your website, make sure that all the mentioned above practices you may want to implement work well not only on a desktop but also on mobile. For another good reference of mobile UX, see the Best Buy website.

Best Buy also visualizes product categories with pictures to make navigation easier (true wireless, wireless, over-ear and on-ear, etc.) If this is not enough, you can apply more filters and narrow down the list of 164 headphones to a few products that perfectly fit your needs. By the way, the size of the buttons is just right for mobile devices: big enough to easily hit the button, but not too big to take up too much display space.
Filters UX on BestBuy
Mobile user experience on BestBuy

Key takeaways


  • Try not to underestimate the role of filters for ecommerce: they can help you to build a delightful user experience

  • If you feel that default filters are underperforming, invest some time into improving them
  • Learn from the world practices and adapt those that suit you most to provide an ultimate filtering experience to your users

  • The most effective practices include adding category-specific and thematic filters, making sure they are intuitive to use, thoughtfully arranged, and allow to apply multiple options simultaneously

  • When implementing any of these practices, check that your users get the same great UX experience on mobile devices, as they do on the desktop version of your website

If you want to upgrade your product filters, Searchanise can provide you with tools to put the ideas from this article into action. All you need is to install Searchanise search app with one click, and filters will be automatically added after the first catalog indexation. Filters are highly customizable and you can easily fine-tune them to meet your needs and requirements.

Choose your platform and start a 14 days trial period to provide the same level of user experience as the best ecommerce sites by adapting best filter practices!
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Anastasiya Kupriyanova - Content creator
Anastasiya Kupriyanova
Anastasiya is a content creator at Searchanise. Her professional areas of interest are SaaS solutions and ecommerce. Anastasiya believes that quality content must be valuable for readers and achieve business goals. When she is not busy writing, which does not happen often, she reads passionately, both fiction and non-fiction literature.

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