The Details Behind LinkedIn Faceted Search

<img alt="LinkedInFacetedSearch.jpg" src="/webnewser/files/original/LinkedInFacetedSearch.jpg" width="300" height="245" class="alignright" vspace=6 hspace=3 principal interaction designer Sarah Alpern detailed the professional networking service’s Faceted Search tool in a post on the LinkedIn Blog. Highlights follow:

We strive to design based on a strong understanding of how people use the site. For example, we found that the average number of results per search on LinkedIn was well over 10,000, and a large portion of our searches were refinements on existing, broader searches. Looking at this data, we saw a huge opportunity to assist people in finding who they’re looking for, faster.

We also conducted user interviews, lab tests, focus groups, and surveys to provide a strong picture of our users’ search habits and pain points when trying to find people on LinkedIn and elsewhere on the Web.

People skip past navigation at the top of their page, in search of their results. Once they pass it, they don’t usually come back. Therefore, we placed our refinements down the side of the page.

Check boxes are more discoverable and easy to understand than links or other user-interface selection elements because they provide a clear call to action and enable easy and intuitive experimentation (including undo).

Unchecked boxes better met peoples’ expectations of selecting what they want, as opposed to deselecting what they don’t.

Users had a more intuitive and enjoyable experience when the results updated on the fly with each click, instead of being forced to click a submit button or wait for a page refresh.

We introduced the ability to quickly create advanced searches directly from your search page last November. But we know it’s much easier for people to recognize what they’re looking for when it’s shown to them.

Facets not only help you filter your search results, but also create interesting “results” in themselves. They provide a summary of the search results and bring forward the top ranking values for each facet, guiding further investigation and giving strong cues for further refinement. As you can see, we approached Faceted Search as an opportunity to enable a much more inspired and serendipitous exploration.

And finally, the value of people search lies in relationships that matter. So, we made “relationship” a prominent facet, allowing people to easily refine along many dimensions such as company, school, or location, but then further narrow that down to people you know or could be easily introduced to (from your second degree of connections).