CMS and Faceted Search

Faceted search and navigation has been mainstream for a while now in the larger eCommerce sites. This was partly driven by both the faceted nature of product data (i.e., most products have a type, brand, price, etc.) and the availability of the data in retailers’ existing information systems.

Interestingly enough, even though the technology is there, the use of faceted search and navigation in mostly content sites has been lagging. However, in the last year, we have finally seen an uptick in the use of this pattern beyond commerce sites. With the redesigned Bing search engine really leveraging this concept, and driving some of the innovation around search, I believe we will see the concept become a standard practice on sites that have large amounts of content.

One additional contributing factor is that there is also some traction around the lower end and open source market. Although vendors like Endeca and Coveo have been providing this capability for the enterprise for a while now, open source and low cost alternatives are emerging as well.
For example, Apache Solr is getting a lot of traction recently, and Acquia launched a hosted faceted search capability for Drupal earlier this year.

This is an exciting development, and I believe we will see significant improvements in site search in the future.

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2 thoughts on “CMS and Faceted Search”

  1. Martin:
    Thanks for the this – very useful observations. We’ve had the opportunity to deploy the major faceted search technologies on behalf of some major retailers. More recently, we’ve endeavoured to leverage faceted search for content-rich sites. The implementation challenges differ significantly and i believe this might be one reason why content-driven sites have been slower to adopt the technology. In particular, the difference between structured and unstructured content makes implementing effective faceted search on top of a CMS more challenging.

    You might be interested in our whitepaper – Six Tips for Delivering Faceted Navigation within a CMS-Driven Website – available at It captures much of what we’ve learned in these deployments.

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