This week’s tips – taken from nearly 80 tips in our “The Big Book of Site Search Tips” – focus on refinements in site search. Refinements refer to the filters or categories you create that allow site visitors to narrow the results of a search, so they only see products that fit certain criteria (e.g. price range, 4-star reviews, gender-specific, etc.). Here are some tips to consider when using refinements in your site search (these can also apply to navigational refinements):

  • Don’t show too many refinement options when displaying them as links – Instead, show the most popular and have a “more” option to see the rest. Providing too many refinement options can be distracting. If the site visitor is interested, a “more” option will make it quick and easy to drill down into your site while maintaining the real estate to promote other items.


  • Test the placement of refinements – Businesses provide refinements in different places on their sites, often at the top of pages or in the left navigation pane. The bottom of the page is probably not the best position for refinement options, since visitors have to scroll down the page to view them. Any of these options may work for you and your site visitors, but it is important to test different positions.
 Test the placement of refinements
  • Allow people to navigate between refinements on the same level – In other words, if a visitor clicks on a refinement but then decides they want to see a different refinement, don’t make them click “back” to get to the original search results page first. They should be able to simply click a different refinement option from that page and easily see a new batch of results.

Download the Big Book of Site Search Tips

One thought to “Lets Talk Refinements”

  • Dan

    The big advantage of sidebar placed navigation is that it frees up the extremely valuable top-area real estate for merchandising/promotion type material. Also, I don’t mind lots of options on which to refine, as long as they are clear and distinct. I’d rather have too many options, and just be able to collapse and ignore them, then not enough. But then, I’m in the attribute business myself, and that’s the way I shop.

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