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How and Where to Use Filters on Your Business's Website

Every day, more and more content gets added to the World Wide Web, and likely to your own business site. People are inundated with information to the point that finding the content they need is a challenge. A big help for most people is the ability to filter through all that data and find the narrow focus they seek.

Filters are used for so much more than just the content on your website, though. Businesses also use them to monitor how employees use their time and access data about customers. Filters solve some of the top marketing challenges businesses face, such as managing a website and targeting content for an international audience.

There are some clear places and reasons to use filters for your business website. Here are seven uses and examples of other companies using them well.

1. Offer Clear Options

Filters don't always have to look like a navigational hierarchy. You can simply list sizes or options in text or in the form of buttons. Think about the easiest way for your users to access the item and how you can present what they want without making them search for it. The simpler the process of filtering, the more likely people will order from your website.

macys website offers expansive filtering options

Macy's offers some expansive filtering options for people who visit its website. When you land on the page, you can filter down your choices by sales or departments, such as men's or women's. In the screenshot above, the selection has been filtered down to kids. The user is then presented with a choice of different sizes. Click on one and you can filter even further by price, featured items, bestsellers or new arrivals.

2. Secure Your Site

More advanced website filters also block the information sent out and protect personal data, such as customer contact information. Making sure you have a secure website is important if you want to be compliant with GDPR and other laws protecting the privacy of consumers. In addition to reliable filtering, you should make sure your site has an SSL certificate and an HTTPS prefix. Your site visitors should trust you to keep their private data secure.

3. Narrow Down to Most Popular Choices

If you realize most people who land on your website seek a specific item or category, then offer a filter for just those items and feature it on your landing page. This puts the information customers most use at their fingertips and improves the overall user experience (UX). Anything you can do to make the customer experience smoother and more intuitive gives you an edge over competitors.

quinn company offers a "view machines" filter on their website

Quinn Company offers a "view machines" filter on its landing page, which is useful to anyone looking for equipment. Rather than going through all the different areas of the site, the person can choose to view new, used or rental machines and further narrow it by categories such as asphalt pavers, backhoe loaders and portable generators. This takes the user directly to the equipment they need.

4. Keep Filters Above the Fold

Have you ever shopped on a page and the filters are difficult to find? It's frustrating when you want to narrow your choices but can't find the right options to do so. Keep any filter options above the fold and as near the top of the page as possible.

Of course, as the choices narrow down and your filters get more specific, you may want to place options next to a product image. However, keep them above the fold as users navigate through your site. You don't want your user to have to scroll down endlessly page after page. You'll risk losing people who don't have much time to browse your site.

5. Use Words That Make Sense

When creating your filter choices, try to think of the words people use intuitively to look for items on your site. This might require studying searches and even polling your customers, but much of wording is common sense. You can also examine search trends on Google to get a feel for the words people use when searching for products and services like yours.

biketours.com allows a search to  be filtered down in an interesting way

BikeTours.com offers the ability to filter down your search in an interesting way. Once you choose a destination from the main page, such as France, it then provides filters near the top of the page in the left sidebar. Options include narrowing your search by departure month, rider level and average daily distance. Notice how the terms are simple and easy to understand. It addresses the questions and concerns someone might have when touring on a bike through Europe.

6. Separate Mobile and Desktop Filtering

About 50 percent of all internet traffic today is via mobile devices. However, the way people browse on smartphones and the way they do so on desktops is different. Think about this when choosing filtering methods, as well as the reduced screen size, and offer different options based on what type of device the user accesses your site with. Test your theories and make sure the changes resonate with site visitors.

7. Decide on Higher Levels

Figuring out the best ways to group different filtering options allows you to push specific products or narrow choices according to current events. For example, if you sell clothes, you might offer categories such as women's, men's and kids'. Then, when a user clicks on women's, they can filter the choices by occasions such as weddings, summer, new arrivals and so on. Think about the reasons someone might visit your site and what they might search for while there.

ScotteVest.com offers some high-level options for filtering

ScotteVest offers some higher-level options that are simple and intuitive. For example, when you land on its home page, you can sort by men's, women's, outlet and sale items. Click on a category and you're given subcategories for specific vest types with color filtering options on individual items.

Test Your Website Filters

There are many different ways of utilizing website filters to improve the user experience and make your site more functional. However, it's also easy to narrow your focus too much and the buyer doesn't receive enough options to interest them. Choosing the right filters is a balancing act. Try out different concepts and A/B test them to ensure they resonate with your target audience.

Lexie 1

Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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