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I'm creating an AJAX live search on a website I'm working on. Users will select values from a few dropdowns and a list of products will be returned based on what they select. Some possible fields would be: color, model, make, etc.

What type of organization of search results do users tend to find most useful? Is it better to lump them all together (alphabatized) or is it more useful to lump them together by make? In the past I've tended to group them by "make" but I'm not concerned that this will continually force some items with a make toward the end of the alphabet always to the bottom of the list. Any tips are greatly appreciated.

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You need to take into accout 2 major things:

  1. Order the results so the first item will be more relevant than the last item. (natural mapping)

  2. You should make a Card Sorting test to see how your users expect to see the results. If you don't do that, you will not make the best ordering type.

Generally speaking, some sort of advanced sorting/filtering etc is not recommended for many reasons that are out of this thread scope.

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It usually depends on the type of results (items) you are going to display (for example, do users need to buy the item? Do they need to physically get where the item is? (restaurants, buying vehicles, etc)). You could allow result filtering so users could sort the results by themselves. If you have enough users to have statistically significant results, you could run A/B split tests to determine what your audience likes the most.

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Vecta the way users sort and filter products on eCommerce sites can't simply be determined for all your users. Visitors coming from shopping comparison sites tend to sort products by price. While organic visitors usually leave the sorting as is.

I would suggest you follow how most popular eCommerce websites have this setup. Zappos, Magento, CS-Cart etc all give users the option to first view listings in a list or grid. Then the common filter options by popularity, price, alphabetical etc. Look at other eCommerce sites and see how their default filter and sorting is setup.

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