Facets vs Filters

May 16, 2024 • 3 min read

Facets and filters are both powerful tools that help users navigate and explore data or products.

They are often mixed up or used as the same thing because both let you sort and pick out items from lists based on certain conditions.

However, they are not interchangeable and have different implications when it comes to user experience.

Let’s look at both in detail.


Filters are generally used to narrow down a set of data based on specific criteria.

They are placed on top of items list on large devices (laptop, desktop) or often hidden until users access the filter interface on small/medium devices (smartphones, tablets).

This can make it easier for users to handle complex data sets, as they can focus on one aspect at a time. However, it may not be immediately clear to users how to narrow down the data or what filters have already been applied.

Promoted filters can be particularly useful for mobile users. This is because most filters on mobile are not immediately visible until users access the filter interface. As a result, users may not initially understand how to refine the product list or identify which filters are already in use.

By promoting popular filters in the product list, users can more easily narrow down their choices. In this report, the Baymard Institute emphasizes that popular filters expedite product discovery on e-commerce websites.


Facets, on the other hand, are a type of filter that is always visible to the user.

They provide multiple perspectives on a data set and help users explore and understand the data more deeply. Facets can provide a more intuitive and engaging user experience, as users can see at a glance what options are available for filtering the data.

One significant advantage of using facets in large data sets is that they provide users with a comprehensive overview of the data. By displaying all available options, facets allow users to see the breadth and depth of the data set at a glance. This can make it easier for users to understand the structure of the data and identify areas of interest.

Additionally, facets can help users make more informed decisions about how to filter the data. By showing the number of items that fall under each facet, users can get a sense of the distribution of the data. This can help them prioritize which facets to explore based on their relevance and significance.

Moreover, facets can facilitate exploratory data analysis. Unlike filters, which require users to have a specific goal or query in mind, facets encourage users to browse and discover new insights. This can lead to a more engaging and interactive user experience.

Lastly, facets can support more complex queries. By allowing users to apply multiple filters simultaneously, facets can handle multifaceted queries that would be difficult or impossible to express with filters alone.

Final thoughts

In terms of mobile user experience, promoted filters can be especially helpful. They give users a clear path to narrow down large product lists and make it clear what filters have been applied.

The choice of which filters to promote will vary by industry, depending on the type of product and what’s most important to users.

Facets, on the other hand, can be more challenging to implement on mobile due to space limitations. However, they can still provide a valuable tool for helping users navigate and explore data.

In conclusion, both facets and filters have their place in UX design. However, there is no “one size fits all” combination of filters working for any kind of product.


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