Yes, Faceted Search for Mobile is Possible

Faceted Search is recognized as a powerful search experience enhancement, easy enough for even novice users to filter large result sets.  As I’ve seen the increasing importance of mobile computing, I’ve struggled with how to fit facets on smaller mobile screens.  You see, facets usually belong on the left of search results, but I simply can’t see how to fit the facets there.  While some websites show facets above results, I can’t recommend this either as it would push down the all-important search results.

Luckily, as I investigated the excellent auto-complete implementation by MarkLogic, I had an inspiration.  You see, MarkLogic implemented their auto-complete directly off facet names and facet values.  And while this can be a great user experience on standard browser-based search experiences, in a mobile context the value is exponentially higher for two reasons:

  1. As mentioned above, screen real-estate is limited on mobile.  Auto-complete takes no extra screen real-estate since it floats and only shows as the user types.
  2. Typing on mobile devices is often more awkward, so a great auto-complete experience can save keystrokes.

Here’s a video I created using our Unified Search Platform which shows the user experience I’m describing:

Sam Mefford About Sam Mefford

Sam contends that the next information revolution will be built on Search--not web search, Enterprise Search. His current role as Enterprise Search Architect and Practice Lead for the Enterprise Search team at Avalon Consulting, LLC not only puts Sam in contact with the engineers, product managers, and CEOs driving innovation at leading Enterprise Search vendors, but at the other end of the spectrum also allows Sam to meet and spend time face-to-face with end users of Enterprise Search to understand their requirements and educate them on what is possible with modern Search technology. His background as a hard-core developer and his passion for great user experiences put him in a unique position to cut through the hype and promote the technologies really making a difference for end users, such as Guided Navigation, Entity Extraction, Spotlighting, Virtual Documents, etc.

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