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Blue Nile Case Study: Search Filters User Perceptions Research

Searching for the perfect diamond isn't always the easiest task; there are many variables involved beyond cost and beyond the style. In fact, there are many facets to a diamond purchase that a customer must consider. The Blue Nile diamond search aimed to refine this experience. Beginning with assessing the at-the-time search UI and flow, a new concept was designed to support all existing diamond search criteria, but also bring-forward the flagship diamond offering, Astor Diamonds.

Findings in this study lead to more exploratory work for the diamond finder, including diamond search presets (quick filters).

My focus in this study was to assess the new design against Blue Nile's direct competitor, James Allen. User feedback was collected to assist the UX team in not only moving forward with this refreshed diamond search, but would be the foundational component to the build-your-own (ring, earrings, pendant) model that can be discovered and experienced throughout the diamond shopping experience.

Blue Nile Diamond Search

  • Users complimented the design of the shape filters because of the detail of the graphics and permanent labelseated above each graphic.

  • The coloration and theme of the filter “area” was perceived as classy, high quality, and refined.

  • Information icons beside each filter were considered helpful guidance for those who are not “power users” or experienced diamond shoppers.

  • Overall, Blue Nile filters received a generally higher approval rating for BOTH aesthetics and ease of use.

  • The filter results had a lower approval, with a larger number of users disliking the list-view, and users asking for a visual view as the default. However nearly all users discovered and/or used the list/visual toggle to improve their preferred way-finding experience.

  • Visualizations of Blue Nile product were perceived as “lower quality” vs James Allen’s graphic visual qualities.

  • The priority of filter importance was Price, Carat, Cut and Clarity.

James Allen Diamond Search

  • Users complimented the clean design of the site as a whole.

  • The coloration and theme of the filter “area” was perceived as a clean design, some users did note that it looked more like a site that was “in progress”, or the filters tended to “blend” into the page.

  • The filter results had a much higher approval rating, with a larger number of users admiring the thumbnail view the most.

  • Visualizations of the James Allen product was perceived as high quality, for both search results and PDP.

  • The priority of filter importance was Price, Carat, Clarity, and Delivery Speed.


Presets present an opportunity for users to speed up the diamond search process; they may prove helpful for customers in discovery mode. In general, users will need to be allowed to edit any search result, whether they use a preset or not.

James Allen supersedes visualization quality in many instances, particularly in search graphics and PDP display functionality, and rotational renderings.

James Allen outperforms search results in terms of aesthetics and appeasement, specifically due to the graphical nature of the results page.

Users experienced some difficulty using sliders in general, however text box ”type-ins” were perceived as helpful and a usability backup to achieve the same task.

Desktop Experience: Users rated the Blue Nile desktop site as less favorable (30% approval) vs. James Allen.

Mobile Experience: Users rated the Blue Nile mobile site as much more favorable (60% approval) vs. James Allen.

50% of Mobile users were more inclined to use an easy-filter vs 30% of desktop users, this was the case regardless of which site they were reviewing.


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