Fun with faceted search

I am a huge fan of faceted search. It allows me to be selfish and search for the things that matter to me. With faceted search I can filter out all the stuff I don’t care about. It’s wonderful!

I’m curious to see how companies slice and dice their inventory so that online shoppers can find what we’re looking for. Common facets include the following:

  • Brand
  • Color
  • Consumer Rating
  • Price

I am particularly fascinated with “cutting edge” or creative facets. What am I talking about, you ask? Read on.

Recently I ran out of my favorite perfume so I decided to look for it online. I went to and began my hunt. Because I knew exactly what I wanted, I chose “perfumes” as my starting point and then I narrowed my search by brand. Finding my perfume took about 45 seconds. Awesome!

I have always loved the Sephora web site, so I decided to poke around and see what was happening with their faceted search. That’s when I stumbled upon searching for beauty products by personality type. I am 100% a Gadget Girl:

Clever, no?

Another feature that caught my attention was the ability to narrow a search by your “concern.” What a nice euphemism for “beauty problem.” Here are some of the concerns you can filter by:

While I no longer see it on the Sephora site, at one point (when we were banned from carrying certain gels and liquids on flights), they created a facet that allowed shoppers to browse for items that would pass airport security. I don’t know who organizes, but kudos to them for being innovative with search!

Have you ever been doing some online shopping and grown frustrated because a particular facet you’d like to filter by wasn’t available? This happened to me last night.

I was on the site and things were going well. I was able to search for jeans in the 512 style, in my waist size, and by the length of my inseam. I had recently shopped for Levi’s jeans at the local mall and I noted that the 512 style had a wide variety of pocket designs.

Some pockets were small, some were tiny, and others had hidden-snap pockets. There were pockets with a 1970’s hippy design, and a few pair featured a zipper pocket. Other pairs had the traditional Levi’s symbol but with a variety of colored stitching. I only wanted the classic gold stitching. Unfortunately, faceted search by pocket style wasn’t available on Because I didn’t know what kind of pockets the 512’s had, I didn’t buy any jeans. Turns out, I’m picky about pockets.

I’m attending a couple conferences in the coming months, and I booked my flights and hotels this week. Where flights are concerned, I’m interested in an early departure time because the early flights tend to run on time. The later in the day you fly, the greater the odds are that things will get backed up, congested, cancelled, etc.

After departure time, the next thing that matters to me is whether or not it’s a direct flight. Generally, I don’t mind a layover; it’s nice to exit the aircraft to use a proper restroom and get a bit of exercise. I also love to people watch and airports are great for this. But what I don’t like is a layover that is more than one hour. I learned this the hard way. Early in my flying days, when it hadn’t occurred to me to be concerned about layovers, I had a 7-hour layover in Atlanta. I thought I would die. And at that time, it wasn’t a digital, wired world. So I had nothing to do to occupy my time.

Bottom line: I love to browse and search on travel sites; they offer such a nice variety of facets for searching and scheduling your travel arrangements.

For birthday and Christmas gifts, I received several Target gift cards.‘s faceted search isn’t necessarily whimsical and creative. It is more utilitarian in nature but it allowed me to find a digital camera in the color blue, at the $200-$350 price point.

Guess who is using their Target gift cards to buy a new, blue camera? 😉


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