Filters and faceted navigation are often used interchangeably because they share the same goal: helping people narrow down a large sets of options according to defined criteria.
They do this well if the filters or facets match the dimensions that are relevant to the user. Filters and facets are feature-focused, not need-oriented. They add additional interaction costs as they are sometimes not meaningful and require users to comprehend the labels presented to them. This reveals one of their main drawbacks: you need to implement a system that the average user can navigate effectively. They are also often counterintuitive, too inflexible, and generally ineffective for non-expert users. They can quickly make potential customers feel lost.
Keep in mind that not all users are experts. This is precisely what differentiates SMARTASSISTANT digital advisors from filters and faceted search.
SMARTASSISTANT digital advisors follow a strictly need-oriented paradigm that more closely aligned with the user's mental model when searching for products that fit their needs. When making a decision, most users (especially non-expert users) start with their needs ("I want to do x, y, and z"), not with product features ("I need feature a, b, and c").
But these are not the only differences:
- No frustrating empty result sets - you can display alternatives when there is no exact match
- Informative - you can engage in more sophisticated and more effective value communication based on the user's needs
- Multiple navigation routes - you can define complex Q&A flows that dynamically adapt to the user's previous selections
- Intuitive experience - you can talk directly with the user and create a more personal and natural advice experience
- Result explained - you can explain how and why a presented result fits the user's needs See how you can make your filters more meaningful with Need-based filters