Faceted Search

Faceted search (a.k.a. faceted browsing or faceted navigation) is a design pattern that allows the user to filter a large collection of items quickly using a set of facets. There are two key properties of successful faceted search implementations: 1. the updates happen nearly instantaneously after each filter change and 2. filters can be applied/unapplied in any order.

Kayak.com was the first commercial site where I saw faceted search implemented well so I thought I would use their interface to illustrate the concept:

As far as I can tell, faceted search as an design pattern for interactive systems was developed by Prof. Marti Hearst's group at UC  Berkeley.  The earliest mention I have found is by Yee, et al., 2003 (see below).

Resources for practitioners:

Hearst, M. (2009). Search user interfaces. Cambridge University Press.

Relevant academic publications:

Ka-Ping Yee, Kirsten Swearingen, Kevin Li, and Marti Hearst. 2003. Faceted metadata for image search and browsing. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '03). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 401-408. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/642611.642681

Marti A. Hearst. 2006. Clustering versus faceted categories for information exploration. Commun. ACM 49, 4 (April 2006), 59-61. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1121949.1121983

Hearst, M. (2006, August). Design recommendations for hierarchical faceted search interfaces. In ACM SIGIR workshop on faceted search (pp. 1-5).

Hearst, M. (2009). Search user interfaces. Cambridge University Press.