Knowledgebase: Add-Ons

How do I Set Up My Category Filters?


If you have purchased Shift4Shop's Category Filters add-on, the following article will show you how to set it up.

Please Note
The following information is in regards to the regular Category Filter Add-On. If you are using Dynamic Category Filters, the process is a bit different due to the fact that the filters are created via scripting. Our MyWebmaster staff will contact you via email with more information once it has been installed.

Enabling Category Filters
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Some time after purchasing the add-on, you will receive a confirmation message letting you know that the function has been added to your store. After you get this message, you can then follow these steps to begin setting everythig up:

  1. Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager
  2. Using the left hand navigation menu, go to Modules
  3. Using the search bar at the top, search for "Category Filters" to view the module.
  4. Place a mark in the "Enable Category Filters" checkbox.
  5. Click "Save" at the top right to commit your changes.

The feature is now ready for you to create your filters and populate your products to filter properly. In the next section, we will detail how to create your filters and populate items as needed.

Please be aware that the creation of the filters and populating of the items into the filters is not a service provided by Shift4Shop. The creation and populating of the filters themselves can be somewhat time consuming as it involves properly mapping out how you would like the filters to work. Please factor this into your planning if you are considering purchase of the add-on.

Creating Your Filters
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In this section, we'll go over the steps involved in creating your filters. First, we'll give a brief overview followed by a more complete, step-by-step outline that you can follow.

Brief Overview
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The category filters themselves will essentially be made up of hidden categories which will act as the filters. These hidden Filter Categories will then contain their own sub-categories which will act as the actual filtration sub-sets (facets). For example, let's say your store sells clothing items and you'd like to have filters for individual articles of clothing (Shirts, Pants, etc) and materials of the fabric (Cotton, Polyester, Nylon, etc).

To do this, you would create two hidden categories in your store:

  • Type
  • Materials

These categories will be marked as your store's filters by going into the category (in the online store manager), expanding the "Filter Category" section, and marking the "Enable" checkbox. (Remember to Save!)

Then, within these two hidden categories, you would create sub-categories for each possible filter. The subcategories do not need to be hidden and they should not be enabled as a Filter Category (only their parent categories need this). After creating your sub-categories, the category structure will look something like this:

  • Type
    • Shirts
    • Pants
    • Hats
    • Blouses
    • Accessories
  • Materials
    • Leather
    • Cotton
    • Polyester
    • Polyester/Cotton Blend
    • Nylon
    • Silk

Next, you will create a parent category which will contain the Filters for the shoppers' use. This will be a main category that - when visited - will present your visitor with the filters they can use to drill down their selections. In our case, we'll create a category called:

  • Browse Our Items

Then, to designate the catgory's filters, you'll go into the Main category (in the online store manager) and click on the "Filter Category" section where you will see a series of drop down menus. Use these drop downs to set the filters this main category will use.

Finally, you will populate the created sub-categories with their applicable products so that they show up when a shopper uses the filter. In other words, a silk blouse product will belong in both the Type/Blouses and Materials/Silk categories. When a shopper Goes to "Browse Our Items" on the store, they will be presented with the Type and Materials filters.

  • If the visitor filters for blouses, the Silk Blouse item will appear along with all other Items in the blouse sub-category.
  • If they filter the view for silk, the item will still appear and non-silk items will be filtered out.

Be sure to place the items into the sub-categories you created and not the Filter Categories. Remember that it's the sub-categories which will act as the filtration sets.

When creating your filter categories and their sub-categories, it really helps to have a visual representation of how to plan your filters. We recommend using a spreadsheet program to create a visual reference like the following:

For example, using our clothing scenario above, you'd create something like the following:

This way, you can pre-determine how many hidden categories you will need to create and how many sub-categories each filter will have.

In our next section, we'll go over the process in a more complete, step-by step fashion.

Complete Overview
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For the purposes of this tutorial, we'll be creating Category Filters for a store that sells a variety of flat screen TVs. Our merchant in this case has 30 different flatscreen models in a variety of screen sizes and variations. For his shoppers, he'd like to offer filtering based on the following:

  • Technology
    The type of display technology on the product
  • Screen Size
    Sizes ranging from 20" screens to larger 90" screens
  • Resolution
    The available resolutions available in each model
  • Features
    Additional Features available in some models

Using our visual model (*See "Tip" in the above section) the merchant created the following map he'll need to follow for his categories.

Based on this mapping, the merchant will create four new categories that will act as the filtering options. These categories will then have a series of sub-categories within each that will act as the filtration options.

Filter Category
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Let's create the first category that will act as a filter:

  1. Go to Products >Categories
  2. Click on "+Add New" at the top right of the page
  3. Enter the name of the category and set the "Where to place it" drop down to "New"

In our case we'll name the category "Technology" but you will name it whatever you want the filter's label to be.

  1. Click "Save" to create the category.

Now we will make this category hidden. This is entirely optional, but we recommend the filter categories be hidden so that they do not appear on the store front as it may look confusing to your shoppers when displayed out of context.

To Hide the category, simply navigate to Products >Categories again, and use the Action Wheel (at the far right of the category) to select the "Hide" option. Be sure to save after!

Next, we will designate the category we just created as a filter category.

  1. Click on the Category's name to open it
  2. Now click on the "Filter Categories" section to expand that area of the category
  3. Mark the "Enable" checkbox
  4. Finally click "Save"

Repeat these steps for the rest of your filter categories. In our case we'll be creating the remaining filters for Screen Size, Resolution and Features. You will create whatever your filters need to be.

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Now, let's create our first sub-category that will act as a subset of one of our Filter categories.

  1. Go to Products >Categories
  2. Click on "+Add New" at the top right of the page
  3. Enter the name of the category.

In this case, we'll be creating the "LCD Display" sub-category but you will name it whatever you need the filtration sub-set to be.

  1. Below the "New Category Name" field, select the Parent Category from the "Where to place it" drop down menu.

In our case, this new LCD Display category will be a subset of "Technology" so we'd select that one.

  1. Click "Save" to create the new sub-category.

Repeat these steps for the rest of your sub-categories. Use your map and remember to place the sub-categories in their appropriate filter categories. In our case we will be creating the sub-categories for Display types like LCD, LED, etc in the "Technology" filter, the sub-categories for screen sizes in the "Screen Size" filter category, and so on.

Main Navigation Category
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Our next step in the process involves creating a main navigation category. This will be a category that can be viewed on the store front and - when navigated to - will give shoppers the filters you've created to help them drill down their selection.

  1. Go to Products >Categories
  2. Click on "+Add New" at the top right of the page
  3. Enter the name of the category.

In our case we will call this category "Flat Screens" but you can call it anything you wish. Make sure this new category is created with "New" in the "Where to place it" selector.

  1. Click "Save" to create the category

This Category should NOT be hidden as you want people to actually navigate to it.

Now, we'll set the filters that this Main Navigation Category will use

  1. Click on the Category's name to open up its configuration screen
  2. Now click on the "Filter Category" section.

In that section, you will see a series of drop down selections for each filter you've created thus far.

  1. Select the Filters that this category will use.
    The order in which they're selected will dictate how they appear on the store front.
  2. Lastly, click "Save"

Your filters are now set. Your next steps will be to assign products to their individual filter sub-categories.

Adding Products to Filter Sub-Categories
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We're up to the final step in the process which can also be the most extensive and time consuming; but the end result will be well worth the task. The final step is to add products to your filters so that they appear for your shoppers when the filters are used.

The process of adding products to the sub-categories is the same as it has always been.

What makes this process more difficult for Category Filters however, is the fact that the products may often belong in multiple sub-categories at once for filtering.

For example, some of the Flat Screen TVs used in this tutorial are available with technology that allows them to display 1080i as well as 720p and other resolutions. Therefore, the merchant in this case will have to make sure that those TVs belong in each of those resolution sub-categories. This way, if someone filters for one resolution over the other, the applicable TV sets are still shown.

For this reason, we also recommend mapping out your products visually using a graph similar to the following. Again, excel or any spreadsheet program would be great for this.

This way, you can easily tell which items need to be housed in more than one sub-category for the filtering to work as well as possible.

The Final Result
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After setting up his products and filter's, our example merchant's visitors can now:

  1. Browse to the store's Flat Screens category where they'll see the available filters.
  2. Once there, they can use these filters to narrow down their selection. For example, specific screen sizes.
  3. And they can continue selecting filters as needed to further narrow the selections.
  4. and so on!

If you're interested in purchasing the Category Filter Add-On, please contact your Sales representative or click here for ordering details.

Click here to view a demo of the Category Filters!

Category Filter Facets
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The Category Filter Facets portion of the module will take the store's existing Category Filters and dynamically create SEO friendly links to each respective filter. This can greatly improve your store's overall SEO by allowing you to have direct URLs (as well as let you control meta tagging and SEO specifics) for each applied category filter on the store.

Please be aware that the Category Filter Facets is an enhancement to the store's existing category filters. Before you can utilize Category Filter Facets, you must first have your regular category filters set up and working, so please be sure to finish the top portion of this article first!

To use the Category Filter Facets module:

  1. Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager
  2. Using the left hand navigation menu, go to Modules
  3. Once the Modules page loads, use the search bar at the top to search for and locate "Category Filters"
  4. When the module appears, click on its "Settings" button

In the settings popup, you will see two links: One is labeled "Manage Category Facets" and the other is labeled "Index Category Facets"

Indexing the Category Filter Facets
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Before you can view or manage the facets they need to be dynamically generated by the store first. So before you click on the Manage link:

  1. Click on the "Index Category Facets" link.

This will run a script that will look through your category filters and start generating the faceted links for you. The process may take some time as the store proceeds to dynamically map and generate individual URLs for all of your Category Filters. Depending on the size of the store's category filtering data, the process can take up to 30 minutes (usually less).

Once the process is complete, please go back to the module to see if the script has finished its run. Once it's complete, you may click on the "Manage Category Facets" link to review and edit the facets.

When creating your filter categories, please avoid creating them with special charaters in their names (i.e. &,%,#,@, [spaces], etc) as it could cause URL encoding issues.

Please also note if/when you make changes to your filter categories (names, sorting orders, etc), please remember to click the "Index Category Facets" link to have the store refresh the facet details.

Managing Category Facets
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When you click on the "Manage Category Facets" link, the store will display for you all of your store's filter facets. The grid will list the parent category using the filters, the facet that the URL was created for, and a unique URL for the facets (for SEO purposes). An action wheel at the far right of each facet will let you continue to an edit screen for the facets which will allow you to edit the following SEO related parameters:

  • Page Title
    This lets you edit the title for the Individual Facet page
  • URL
    This will show you the individual facet page's URL (No edit. Only view)
  • Meta Tags
    Here you can edit/create the meta tags for the individual facet page
    (Also contains the Tag Wizard for ease)
  • Canonical URL
    This lets you add a canonical URL for the facet pages (if needed)
  • Header and Footer
    These areas allow you to add html/text to the top and bottom portions of the facet pages.

Once you have made your desired changes, click "Save" at the top right of the page to set them. Repeat for all other facets you need.

Additional Information
As described, the store automatically will generate URLs for all possible combinations of applied category filters. Even if the combination does not have any products, the URL is created. However, if a particular facet does not have products to show, they will not be accessbile on the store front nor will they be followed by spiders. This is just something to be aware of since you may not need to perform manual SEO changes to every single generated URL.

Functionality Details
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Aside from dynamically creating your Facet URLs and letting you specify the SEO capabilities mentioned above, the Category Filter Facets feature will also perform the following functions automatically:

On all created facet URLs with 2 or more applied filters (i.e. domain/category?filter1=[value]&filter2=[value]), the remaining filter links on the category page will be updated to include a special rel="nofollow" tag on them. This is to prevent the search engine indexing spiders from following those filter links to the subsequent (3rd, 4th, 5th, etc) facets and potentially end up with combinations that can appear as duplicate content to the search engine.

On facet URLs where 3 filters are applied (i.e. domain/category?filter1=[value]&filter2=[value]&filter3=[value]), the page itself will automatically be generated with a special CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW" tag on the page's header coding. This is also to prevent search engine spiders from indexing and following page links and creating potential situations that may appear as duplicate content.

Manually Adding a "nofollow" Attribute to Facets
Along with the automated nofollow functions described above, you can also manually apply the nofollow attribute to facet links of your choosing.

  1. Go to Products >Categories
  2. Select/open the subcategory of your filter category
    (i.e. The actual filter that the shopper selects to drill down their selections)

Once you're in the filter category, scroll down and expand the "Filter Category" section. You'll see a checkbox to the right of the "Enable" checkbox

  1. Place a mark in the "Add nofollow attribute to facet link" checkbox
  2. Click "Save" at the top right

This will add the nofollow functions to that specific filter facet's link in the category filter section of the parent category.

After manually setting the nofollow attribute on a specific facet (as described above), the store will set itself to reindex your facets. Therefore it may take a bit of time until the change is live on the store front.

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