Thursday, May 06, 2010

Design Patterns: Faceted Navigation by Peter Morville, Jeffery Callender an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Search Patterns (O’Reilly, 2010) is available on A List Apart (the other ALA).
Faceted navigation is a master pattern. Its deployment impacts all other search patterns and the information architecture as a whole. To oversimplify, there’s the Google model and the faceted navigation model. Choosing between these two is a major strategic decision. Determining whether or not faceted navigation is sensible and feasible is among the earliest steps in design. The infrastructure for faceted navigation can enable a tighter relationship between search and browse. It can shape the structure and navigation of the entire site or application. It also changes how we think about autocomplete and best first. It offers a familiar framework for managing the sources of federated search. Plus, its discriminatory power to clarify intent and refine results may offset the need for personalization and advanced search. That said, faceted navigation won’t work everywhere. For starters, it’s an expensive proposition. The demands on search software and servers are substantial. Also, the metadata infrastructure involves both initial investment and ongoing expense. For these reasons and more, a simpler search model is sometimes better, but it must often be supplemented by advanced search.

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