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White Paper: Multi-faceted searching


Multi-faceted means many faced. It’s a term that was originally used to describe gemstones with each finely cut surface referred to as a facet and the combination of the multiple facets creating the clarity of the stone and increasing its value. Similarly, in a DAM Solution a multi-faceted search facility creates clarity in searching and finding content, greatly increasing its value as an asset.

Here’s how it works…

In a keyword search the user is required to think of the correct search term that they believe will return the desired results. The issue here is that that particular term may or may not have been used, and if it has, the user will also need to spell it correctly in order for it to work. Faceted searching is much easier for the user as they are able to select from a set of pre-determined search terms which eliminates any spelling issues and empty search results as a term should only be available to choose if there are assets tagged to it.

Kathryn Whitenton, MNG states that ‘ideally faceted navigation provides multiple filters, one for each different aspect of the content. Faceted navigation is thus more flexible and more useful than systems which provide only one or two different types of filters, especially for extremely large content sets.

The facets for searching can be presented as:

A flat series of menus – this allows the user to select from a series of attributes, such as Orientation or Colour but they are only able to choose ONE item from each attribute…


A taxonomy, which can be either a Linear or a Multi-Dimensional nested tree like structure…

Linear (Single) Taxonomyin this instance the user is only able to select ONE item, from ONE branch of the tree during a search. So, they can only find Robins in general and cannot narrow the search further in order to specifically locate a Robin for a Christmas card, in winter in the snow.


Multi-Dimensional Taxonomyhere the user is able to use a Multi-faceted search and will navigate through multiple branches of the tree and can select as many items as required to narrow their search. In this way they can easily locate images of Christmassy robins in the snow.


For our DAM Solution iMediaflow®, our team has provided a number of search options; simple Keyword searching, Advanced search – a faceted search where multiple search parameters such as keyword, orientation and model release are combined to narrow the results, Search within a search – which enables you to continually narrow an existing search by applying more filters, and the most sophisticated – Multi-faceted searching.

Our Multi-faceted search technology begins with a bespoke Category Tree which we create for each individual organisation to reflect the terminology used by their particular industry. The category tree begins with top level nodes (facets) which encapsulate all the different areas of the business as well as other more generic attributes. Each high-level node is self-explanatory so that the user will know instinctively what words it will contain making searching fast and intuitive.

To make cataloguing quicker and more accurate we’ve added synonyms to individual nodes such as Latin names for nature and wildlife and alternative spellings such as the British ‘harbour’ and the American ‘harbour’, as well as vocabulary options like church and chapel.

We’ve also adapted the traditional taxonomy model, which only allows a word to be entered once, to enable a more flexible structure where multiple entries of a single word are allowed.

For example, an organisation might want to enter the word cheetah in a number of different places within the Category Tree to help users who are approaching the search from different angles:

                                       1.       Animal > Big Cats > Cheetah

                                       2.       Animal > A-Z > C > Cheetah

                                       3.       Locomotion > Speed > Cheetah

                                       4.       Pattern > Spotted > Cheetah

                                       5.       Holiday > Safari > Animals > Cheetah

All the above are valid as they could enhance the searching experience. A user looking for a variety of animals seen on a safari can find them all in one place and not have to think of the species and look for them one at a time, while a user wanting to demonstrate speed may not have thought of a cheetah and could be inspired by the category search structure.

To help the users searching for assets on the website as well as the administrators cataloguing them on the back end, we reflect the same company customised category tree on the DAM frontend to create the optimum multi-faceted search experience.

Your DAM is only as good as the search mechanism so ensure that the types of search you need are available in the solution you choose and be sure to try before you buy.

Click here to see the other features iMediaflow has to offer.