Knowledge Management without Faceted Search is a Huge Lost Opportunity

According to MOZ State of Search Behavior Report 2017, 34% of searches are abandoned because users didn’t find what they were looking for.

Additionally, the average worker spends almost ⅕ of their time—an entire working day per week—attempting to locate the information they already have.

We believe that much of this time could be saved by leveraging faceted search. Leading Information architect Peter Morville calls faceted navigation “arguably the most significant search innovation of the past decade.”

Faceted navigation is the ability to type a query into a search bar, see results, and filter results all on the same page, at the same time. It’s the difference between toggling back and forth between tabs, windows, and folders and narrowing down a result through clicking on filters. Faceted Navigation’s power comes from the ability to filter down thousands of results to a manageable handful in just a few clicks.

Many of the world’s leading e-commerce sites leverage this simple technology to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, why can’t faceted navigation be part of your knowledge management?

Faceted Navigation Lets You Filter Results

How much does an interface and the ability to filter results affect how you use a site or platform? If you’ve ever used Amazon, booked travel accommodations online or searched for a job on the web, you know the answer is a lot.

An easy-to-navigate interface puts the user at ease so they can focus on their task at hand: finding what they need and getting the task done.

Let’s take a closer look with Amazon.

You can buy just about anything on Amazon. The breadth and depth of their inventory is astounding, and they learned very early on that they had to make it easy for people to find what they were looking for.

But how, exactly, to do so with so much stuff available? Amazon had to take advantage of faceted navigation.

Take a look at the image below.

Amazon gives us the results for “DSLR” but also includes a ton of filters on the left. With these, we can filter our results from over 3,000 to just a few in a couple of clicks.

Regular search lets you search for “DSLR” but faceted navigation lets you narrow down your search quickly by vendor “Nikon”, type of display “2-2.9 inch screen” and by ratings, “5-star customer reviews.”

This prevents users from getting frustrated and abandoning their searches.

Other Sites That Make it Easy to Filter Results

We also see a lot of faceted navigation on travel sites. It’d be pretty hard to imagine trying to sort through all the possible results for flights and accommodation without it.

Tripadvisor gives you tons of options to filter results by:

Looking for accommodation in Positano, you can make sure you within walking distance to town with the distance filter, choose to stay at a B&B with the accommodation filter, and insist on the highest guest satisfaction with traveler rating.

The same key principles that these online giants have mastered work just as well with small and medium-sized businesses and enterprises. Helping users filter results with a broad range of options gives people as many ways to find what they need as possible.

Filter Results and Find What You Need With Better Knowledge Management

Some of the main complaints of major document management and knowledge management platforms stem from poor search and an inability to refine results.

Many of the issues experienced can be quickly solved by leveraging a higher level of filtered results and faceted navigation.

For example, say you’re looking for a piece of content on marketing campaigns, but you can’t remember exactly what it’s called. You remember who shared it with you and that it was an article.

You type in “marketing campaign” and are returned 402 results:

You then filter by author “Sedarius” and are returned 30 results:

Lastly, you filter by content type “article” and refine to 5 results:

This is what makes Faceted Navigation so compelling — the ability to filter results from hundreds to a manageable few with just three clicks or less.

Closing Thoughts

Faceted navigation has been adopted by successful sites all over the web. It makes specific searches possible without the sophisticated background boolean “know-how” that used to be required to get the same results. Faceted navigation should be a foundation of knowledge management as it makes the locating of content exponentially easier saving time and resources in the process.