MODN Problem Solving

Intuitive Faceted Search

By Daniel Jones • 25th August 2022

The Problem

Making complex search uncomplicated

When on-site search is done right, not only will it help your customers find the items they need but it’ll also give them that gentle nudge when making product decisions. This is a win all round when it comes to sales.

However, offer up a complex product range and your customers will likely be left feeling overwhelmed and less likely to round up their journey. Those high end sales? Vanished. Instead, ensure navigation is aligned with customer decision making to boost customer experience, keep visitors engaged and, ultimately, increase the chances of them finding the perfect product for them.

It’s this process that we set out to achieve when MODN, working through a partner agency, built a new web guide for a trade body representing caravan and motorhome manufacturers. Their member manufacturers offer thousands of vehicle choices with a staggering number of options. Their service and offering is exceptional, but the challenge for the website was presenting those options in a way that would make sense for a diverse audience, allowing them to quickly shortlist the most appropriate choices for them and learn where to see them in person.

Challenge accepted.

Client:

Trade body for tourer, motorhome, and caravans, Nationwide (via partner agency)

Scope:

Full website build, including custom faceted search

Technology employed:

  • Laravel
  • Statamic
  • Vue JS

Specific challenges

  • The target market has a broad range of technical ability, making flexible usability a key consideration

  • Caravans and Motorhomes are high involvement purchases with long sales cycles spread over multiple sessions

  • Products coming from multiple manufacturers with diverse offerings required a high number of options that risked slowing down the website and making the experience complicated

The MODN solution

Our custom-built solution delivered a familiar feeling faceted search that incorporated a whole host of advanced features to ensure the very best user experience.

On the front end, we presented users with a large number of options to help them quickly narrow down their search. The controls for each option were selected to make them as intuitive as possible, from price range sliders to single/multiple choice and free-text search. We added in contextual help so that everything felt clear and slick, meaning users could understand each option. 

With so many options on offer, the interface could have very easily become overwhelming. We countered this by making each group collapsable and using colour highlighting to show which options had filters already applied. 

In addition, because user journeys were expected to span multiple sessions, we built a system for customers to register and save their selections: this also functioned as a nifty lead generation tool. We also ensured that users could share any selection through email, messaging or social media by simply sharing the URL of their search.

The site was built on Laravel to benefit from the advantages that it provides in terms of development speed and security. One major issue is that different categories of products were stored separately, this meant aggregating results for motorhomes, campervans, and caravans together wasn’t trivial. Luckily, we had a means to fix this. We wrote custom database search logic for the back-end and optimised this for performance; the results were so effective that we had to add an artificial delay as results were being served faster than was being noticed by end users. Pretty impressive, right?

Broader uses

This type of faceted search brings benefits anywhere that there are numerous options to consider. Although this project was an information website, the approach can be even more effective in an e-commerce environment. Potential uses for this type of solution are too numerous to list, but some ideas include:

  • Property, accommodation or holiday searches

  • Any form of product search where customer choices are led by features

  • Information retrieval: books, whitepapers and other publications

  • Recipe selection

MODN builds smarter websites that better support your business. If you would like your website to be a bit more MODN, contact us today and tell us more about your business challenges.

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