The FASTER Alternative to Ajax Product Filters for WooCommerce
If a shopper on your site has a way to sort through your products in a quick and painless way, your store will likely have an advantage over the competition. There are a few ways this can happen:
- Filters can boost customer engagement, offer a simple way to discover new products, and by extension, drive sales.
- Visitors who engage with filters have a greater chance of finding the item they need, and then to convert into paying customers.
However, many site owners think that a product filter plugin will deliver a performance hit, and impact the User Experience (UX) in a negative way. This doesn’t have to be the case.
While it’s true that the additional functionality a WooCommerce AJAX product filter plugin can provide might cause a website to slow, introduce errors, and bloat your site, it’s not endemic. For example, if you use a plugin such as Ajax Product Filters for WooCommerce, the experience is different in a number of positive ways.
For this tutorial, we’re going to explore why product filters can be a useful addition to your site. We’ll also look at an alternative solution to the popular AJAX Product Filters for WooCommerce plugin that provides faster product filtering and better usability.
Why Product Filters Are Perfect for E-Commerce Websites
When it comes to profitable and valuable technologies for e-commerce, product filtering in the sidebar is one of (if not) the most important ones you can implement. There are a few reasons for this, but one of the main facets is the customer’s product and shopping intelligence.
Overall product knowledge means that a shopper is more intelligent, savvy, and better informed than almost ever before. As such, you’ll want to employ product filters on your site that are accurate, rich with functionality, and offer top-notch organization. If the product filters offer good aesthetics, you’ll have a well-rounded solution for your WooCommerce website.
However, despite the overwhelming benefits of using product filters, and the clear boost it can have on your bottom line, there isn’t much take-up. In fact, only 16 percent of online stores provide a suitable product filtering experience. As such, if you get this right, you’re a few steps ahead of the competition.
What AJAX Is
- HyperText Markup Language (HTML), or variations, such as XHTML.
- Cascading StyleSheets (CSS).
- The Document Object Model (DOM).
- Extensible Markup Language (XML).
- Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT).
- XMLHttpRequest (XHR) objects.
Regardless, when you combine all of these and use them as part of the AJAX model, you can implement better User Interface (UI) updates. Without AJAX, a shop page would need to reload, given that it would need to contact the server, process that request, and update the product page.
In contrast, AJAX can carry out partial refreshes based on fast, incremental updates to the page. In turn, this cuts down on the number of full HTTP requests a site has and speeds up the performance. In addition, the end-user will find that the site has a greater response to their actions. Also, you’ll find that your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) could improve, as speed is a search metric.
What AJAX Can Do In Relation to Product Filters
A typical product filter works off of the typical request model. For example, it would need to contact the server, then process the change through a page refresh. This would be the case for any user action, such as applying a selected filter.
However, AJAX enables this filtering to happen on the client-side, within the browser. There are plenty of positives to take from this:
- The server will create a temporary cache of the page’s information when the user makes a request. As such, you can offer a filtered result on an almost instant basis through the front-end.
- This speed doesn’t only benefit requests though. You’ll find faster loading times throughout the whole filtering experience. This will have great impacts on UX, the number of conversions you’ll see, your SEO, and ultimately, your sales.
Because AJAX is a good thing for many sites, let alone e-commerce stores, you’ll find that there are a number of WooCommerce AJAX product filter plugins on the market. Next, we’ll discuss a popular solution that lots of site owners have a love-hate relationship with.
The Product Filters for WooCommerce Plugin
Automattic, the developers of the WooCommerce e-commerce WordPress plugin, make sure that this solution is just as extensible as its parent platform. As such, you’ll find that WooCommerce offers a base level of functionality that you’ll extend through add-ons or extensions.
The default WooCommerce product filtering is slow and doesn’t work with AJAX. As such, Automattic offers the Product Filters for WooCommerce plugin:
This provides most of the functionality you need to implement WooCommerce AJAX product filters:
- You can filter products in a number of ways: custom taxonomies, categories, product tags, using price filters, stock status, and more.
- You’re able to use a number of different elements to present your filters. For example, you can use checkboxes, radio buttons, drop-down menus, color filters, price sliders, and many more.
- You’ll integrate the product filters using shortcodes and using widget areas. For the latter, you’ll find two widgets to show filters and related notes for that filter.
- There are also a number of adaptive filter options, including product thumbnails.
Of course, because the Product Filters for WooCommerce plugin is an Automattic product, you also get a guarantee that it will work with both WooCommerce and WordPress.org. While the extension can give you peace of mind with regards to its integration though, some users find that other aspects of the plugin can give them a headache. We’ll look at this next.
Why the Product Filters for WooCommerce plugin Isn’t the Best Solution Available
On paper, the plugin is perfect. After all, it offers WooCommerce AJAX product filters, for a reasonable price, and is practically a ‘first-party’ extension for the e-commerce solution.
However, if you take a look at the reviews for the plugin (on the official WooCommerce site, no less), you’ll see a worrying trend:
There are three points here to note:
- The plugin has a 2.4-star rating out of five from its user base.
- 50 percent – exactly half – of the users who left a review give the plugin one star.
- Another 50 percent of those users who answered noted that the plugin is easy to use.
This should be a worrying set of statistics. If paying customers for the plugin don’t think it has good usability, and poor functionality, you’d do well to investigate why this is.
Some of the most helpful reviews (as noted by other users) mention one or all of the following:
- Pagination issues.
- Buggy filter implementation.
- A lack of compatibility with translation services such as the WPML.
- Performance problems.
- Usability and customization issues.
However, one of the biggest gripes with the Product Filters for WooCommerce plugin is its poor customer support. While support isn’t a feature per se, it’s still a primary facet of a good WooCommerce AJAX product filter plugin. Even more so, if your plugin does have problems, you’d expect support to be on hand.
What a Better AJAX Product Filters for WooCommerce Plugin Needs
The Product Filters for WooCommerce plugin almost does a number of things right that you’d want from a decent WooCommerce AJAX product filter plugin. In fact, you can build on what this plugin does right, and come up with a list of non-negotiable elements:
- The plugin should offer enough power that it can display results for every relevant search and product variation filter type.
- It should offer straightforward customization options that let you create beautiful product filters that you can alter to your liking.
- The filters should work across all device types, screen sizes, and formats using responsive and mobile-first design.
- You shouldn’t need coding skills to get the best out of the functionality on offer. In fact, you should be able to create product filters that have the same look and feel as those from a professional developer.
What’s more, the plugin you choose should have regular updates, play nicely with your other WordPress plugins (to cut down on errors), and have a top-drawer support team on hand to help you when you need it. A bonus would be to let you place the filters almost anywhere on your site using widgets and shortcodes.
If you feel like a plugin with all of these features is a pipe dream, think again. Next, we’ll discuss a solution you can turn to that ticks all of these boxes and more.
Acsell Is the Leading WooCommerce AJAX Product Filter Plugin
Acsell Product Filters is one of the fastest WooCommerce AJAX product filter plugins on the market and can stand toe-to-toe with the competition. It uses advanced AJAX product filters, which means it loads on an almost instantaneous basis.
The plugin has plenty of flexibility and lets you create multiple versions of your product filters. For example, you can include price range filters, product category filters, those with product attributes, and many more. The scope is the ability to create almost unlimited filters.
You also get access to filter elements (such as drop-down menus, checkboxes, color swatches, pagination, and more), and flexible placement in any sidebar using widgets and shortcodes.
In addition, it offers more flexibility and customization than competing plugins such as Product Filters for WooCommerce plugin.
One of the core concerns with the Product Filters for WooCommerce plugin is how it performs with shared hosting. While we wouldn’t recommend this type of hosting for a bigger WooCommerce store, it’s still popular. Acsell Product Filters offers compatibility with all types of hosting, at all levels. This means you can nab the benefits of the plugin without the need to spend obscene sums for your hosting.
From there, the browser can recall the data and use it to build product lists and filters from the cache, without the need to call the server again. With the right size site and product list, you could even capture all of the HTML and PHP for the filter without any further call to the server.
The result is a super-quick solution ready to serve your potential customers, and help them find the products they need.
A visitor to your online store will often want to find a product fast. As such, you’ll need them to discover it before they head off elsewhere. Fast product filtering is essential to push those visitors through the sales process, improve your SEO, and turn them into paying customers.
While WooCommerce AJAX product filters can help your conversion rate, it also has a knock-on effect on your UX, UI, and overall sales numbers. The Acsell Product Filters plugin provides advanced AJAX product filters that need only the bare minimum of server calls to capture and serve product data. The result is instant filtering, a faster shopping experience, and a greater number of customers traveling through your sales funnel.
What’s more Acsell Product Filters offers better product support, and looks to walk a user through its setup process. The built-in Config Wizard can help you start building your WooCommerce AJAX product filters in minutes.
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