Although the navigation of Magento 2 has been dramatically enhanced in comparison with 1.X, there is still room for improvement. Therefore, developers are working on Magento 2 layered navigation extensions, and today we are going to compare three popular solutions: Amasty Improved Layered Navigation, Aheadworks Layered Navigation, and MConnect AJAX Layered Navigation. All three modules provide some top-notch features that essentially improve the default functionality, so let’s dive deep into their comparison looking for all pros and cons.
UPD: Since Aheadworks Layered Navigation has been recently updated, some missing features are now available in the extension.
UPD: the third module is added:
Table of contents
- 1 AJAX Filtering
- 2 Attribute Multiselect
- 3 Item Count
- 4 New Filter Options
- 5 Horizontal Navigation
- 6 Sliders & From-To Widgets
- 7 Now Shopping By
- 8 Filter Search Box
- 9 Filter Values Qty
- 10 Shop By Brand
- 11 SEO Improvements
- 12 Dependent Filters
- 13 Category Restrictions
- 14 Tooltips
- 15 Error Message for out of range Price Input
- 16 Loader image
- 17 Intuitive Backend
- 18 Price
- 19 Final Words
The default Magento 2 navigation is impossible without reloads which often become extremely annoying. Imagine a customer is going to narrow down a selection of products you offer, but each time he or she applies a new attribute, the page is reloaded. That becomes irritating and the possibility you will lose a client is rising with each new applied filter.
Luckily, you can solve the problem by installing Amasty Improved Layered Navigation, aheadWorks Layered Navigation or M-Connect AJAX Layered Navigation. All these Magento 2 Layered Navigation extensions are based on the AJAX technology, so you will easily eliminate page reloads with their help.
Additionally, the M-Connect extension provides two types of filters – Automatic and Manual. The Auto type of filter shows automatically show the result after selecting options of the filters. With this feature, the customers will be allowed to select options from filters one by one. On the other hand, the Manual filter type offers the selection of a number of options. Once the options are selected, one pop up will appear to show the number of items matching the selected options with a button to Show.
Another drawback of the default Magento 2 navigation is the inability to select multiple values of the same filter. This also diverts customers from making a purchase on your ecommerce website, but all three extension providers Amasty, aheadWorks and M-Connect Magento 2 layered navigation modules revamps the default functionality providing the attribute multiselect functionality.
Displaying the number of products related to a certain attribute is also a good idea. Amasty and Aheadworks implemented this feature in different ways. In case of the Amasty Improved Layered Navigation Magento 2 extension the item count related to each filter is displayed in brackets right after each attribute. As for the aheadWorks Layered Navigation Magento 2 module, an automatic popover appears after a filter value is chosen showing how many items match current selection. At the same time, the popover contains the “Show” button that enables you to apply the selection. In case of Amasty, the button is situated below the Shopping Options block, which is less convenient. Note that aheadWorks Magento 2 layered navigation extension offers the same button as well.
In case of M-Connect extension, when the “Automatic” filter type is selected, the item count is shown with respect to each attribute in adjacent brackets. Whereas when “Manual” filter type is selected, in addition to the adjacent bracket count, a pop up button with title “Show” and total number of results in the bracket.
New Filter Options
Both Magento 2 layered navigation modules offer new filter options. With Aheadworks you get 3 new filters: New, Discount, and In Stock. As for Amasty’s Magento 2 module, it also offers the in-stock filter. Besides, you get reviews filtering and a rich shop by brand functionality.
UPD (08.12.16): Amasty added the “New” and “On sale” filters.
UPD (04.04.17): You can get the Shop by Brand functionality with the appropriate FREE Magento 2 extension by Aheadworks.
“New” and “On sale” filters:
With M-Connect, you can have a rating and stock filter. Apart from these, you can add any custom attribute for a filter.
Filter by Rating and Stock
In addition to vertical navigation, Amasty offers a horizontal block with filters. Aheadworks does not provide such functionality, but the company’s extension adds a new block of filters that is optimized for mobile devices.
Besides, on mobile, there is the “Shop By” button: once you click it, the filters are opened.
M-Connect’s extension also provides horizontal navigation in addition to the vertical navigation. There are two filter locations available to choose from in the configuration: Sidebar and Toolbar. The sidebar is the vertical position and Toolbar is the horizontal position.
Sliders & From-To Widgets
While both Magento 2 layered navigation extensions offer from-to widgets, Amasty provides the ability to use sliders for all numerical attributes. This tiny improvement makes catalog browsing much easier and store visitors more satisfied with your shopping experience.
UPD (04.04.17): The latest version of Aheadworks Layered Navigation includes price slider!
Amasty Price Slider
aheadWors From-To Price Widget
Just as the other two extension providers, M-Connect also offers both “From-To” and “Slider” feature for the price filter. You simply need to choose “Yes” for “Enable Price Slider” to accentuate the shopping experience for your shoppers. If you select “No”, then it will show different price range to select from.
(with price slider)
(without price slider)
Now Shopping By
In case of Amasty, this is the name of the section that contains all applies filter values. You can easily clear any selected options here. As for Aheadworks, you should clear all values directly in each filter section.
The M-Connect extension also has “Now Shopping By” block which lists all the filters applied. It may happen that customers want to remove some of the filters or “Clear All” and do a fresh search. This is possible under this block. Customer will not have to go to each filter to remove it.
Filter Search Box
The Amasty Magento 2 layered navigation extension also offers a unique opportunity to add a search box to any filter. Thus, you provide customers with the ability to find necessary products inside a specific filter in a couple of seconds.
Filter Values Qty
Another feature that is available only with Improved Layered Navigation by Amasty is the ability to determine the number of filter options that are displayed by default. To see all options, a customer should click the “More” button. The feature is especially useful if there are a lot of attribute values, but some of them are not used quite often.
UPD (04.04.17): Aheadworks Magento 2 layered navigation module also provides this feature now!
Shop By Brand
We’ve just figured out that the “shop by brand” functionality is not available in case of Aheadworks, so let’s concentrate on features offered by Amasty’s Magento 2 layered navigation plugin. First of all, the extension allows filtering products by brand in the navigation block. Besides, it lets you create brand pages and customize them with texts and images. Next, it is possible to add custom blocks there. All brands can be displayed in alphabetical order. A brand slider can be added to any CMS page or block.
There is no information on SEO improvements of Aheadworks Layered Navigation, but Amasty highlights the following features:
- Brand pages with short SEO-friendly URLs (website.eu/url-key/fender).
- Filtered pages with SEO-friendly URLs (category/spring.html, but not category.html?season=121).
- Custom metadata and texts for pages with specified filter options.
In case of the Amasty Magento 2 Improved Layered Navigation extension, you can set dependent filters. It means that some filters are displayed only when a specific attribute is selected. This feature helps to make the filter block neat, but it steal provides the ability to narrow down the selection as much as possible.
Another important feature offered by Amasty is related to category restrictions. To make your navigation even more clear, the extension allows you to display certain filters only with specified categories.
Besides, the Magento 2 layered navigation extensions by Amasty offers the ability to create tooltips for each filter. Thus, you can inform your customers about specific parameters. It is possible to add both custom filter images and text information.
Error Message for out of range Price Input
The price slider functionality of the Mconnect extension offers the customers to choose the price range either by the slider bar or manually enter the price range. In the slider bar, the minimum and maximum amount are automatically taken by the system based on the products with lowest and highest cost. But, in the ‘From-To’ widget customers enter the amount as per their need. In case the customer has entered a wrong amount, i.e. amount lesser than the minimum or higher than the maximum, the system will show an error message mentioning that the entered price is out of range. The admin can easily define or manage the error message from the admin panel.
MConnect provides a feature to enhance the user experience. In Manual filter type, as soon as the customers select options of the attributes and apply to show the result, a loader image appears on the page while updating the search results as per applied filters and then it disappears with the display of customized search results. In the below image, you can see the effect and appearance of a loader image over the page. It is the default loader image, but you can add your own image by choosing the file for this feature in the admin panel.
This aspect is very important for lots of merchants. No one wants to deal with complicated settings before the extension reveals its functionality. As for the most intuitive administrative interface, it is a part of Aheadworks Layered Navigation. It offers just 5 settings. You can enable/disable AJAX (enable it!), activate 3 new filters (the aforementioned In Stock, On Sale, and New), and show/hide “Show X Items” popover. That’s it! You just install the extension and it works!
As for Amasty’s Magento 2 layered navigation module, it has a complex settings structure. There are 5 tabs: General Settings, All Products, Brands, SEO, and Extensions & Notifications. Each tab is divided into sections. We can not say that the Amasty’s backend is hard to master, but you have to spend time configuring the extension, while Aheadworks does not require any efforts.
M-Connect extension’s backend configuration is of moderate level i.e. not as less as aheadWorks and not as complex as Amasty. The aheadWorks Layered Navigation offers limited settings and limited functionality. While in case of M-Connect, you have a couple of more settings for the extended functionality. There are four tabs:
- General Settings – This tab has basic settings like enabling/disable, filter type, price slider, filter location, loader image and error message.
- Filter List – This tab lets you select the attributes for the filter. Hence, you do not need to navigate to Stores → Attribute → Attribute Set.
- Rating Filter – This tab has simple enable/disable setting and a text box to provide label name.
- Stock Filter – Same as above.
Now, let’s compare price tags of all the three Magento 2 layered navigation plugins. You can purchase the Amasty Improve Layered Navigation Magento 2 extension for $359, aheadWorks for $449 and M-Connect Ajax Layered Navigation for $159. So, considering the price feature, M-Connect is the cheapest. Have a look at the comparison table below, to check whether all the features of your interest are covered in which extension.
|“In Stock” Filter||+||+||+|
|“On Sale” Filter||+||+||–|
|Shop By Brand||+||+||–|
|“Now Shopping By” Block||+||–||+|
|Filter Search Box||+||–||–|
|Custom Filter Values Qty||+||+||–|
Although the aheadWorks Layered Navigation is more expensive but at the same time provides fewer features, we still recommend using this Magento 2 module in case you need a reliable tool that will improve the default drawbacks of Magento 2 without right after the installation.
As for the Amasty Improved Layered Navigation Magento 2 plugin, it is great if you need more advanced features and ready to master a quite complicated backend. And of course, the extension will fully satisfy your needs if you only need to fix the default problems related to the Magento 2 layered navigation.
Both Amasty and aheadWorks extension are quite high in price. So, if you want to improve the layered navigation of your Magento 2 store on a tight budget, then M-Connect is the perfect solution for you. It provides all the required features for AJAX based layered navigation.