I'm developing a marketplace application that will eventually list a large number of different types of items.
Currently our search system (powered by Algolia) is built on pre defined attribute fields that must be filled out by the user when adding new items. We would allow 'N/A' to be entered for fields that don't apply or are not known at the time.
This is good because:
- It makes for a uniform set of filtering options across a product type. Users will know what the available options to filter by are, right away.
- It ensures a more accurate and complete database as well as more accurate filtering.
But its also bad because:
- For every new item type we have to research and define a new set of attribute fields, which makes it very labor intensive and slows down expansion greatly.
- Adding new products is very time intensive for the users as well, which would definitely cause a portion of potential users to avoid using our product.
So to remedy this we are considering moving to a user defined tags system. Which would allow us to expand much faster as there are no pre defined set of inputs per item (aside from basic stuff like item name, price, size, etc). It would also reduce the data entry time for new products.
However I have some issues with this approach:
- Users don't know the breadth of possible relevant tags per item type, making it difficult to be complete as well as correct. We would implement an autocomplete on the tag input but this would only help the user find tags they already know of.
- This would likely result in inaccurate filtering for a lot of items until the system matures. Also until we have done an extensive audit of the tags and implemented systems to increase tag accuracy/item searchability (tag voting, auto adding tags)
- Would result in a lot of user data entry mistakes since a tag can be anything.
- Generally a less complete and more inaccurate database, until it matures.
I'm looking for some more knowledgeable opinions and advice here, what is a better way to go about this? Are there any issues with the above?