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Seven ways you can optimize your eCommerce navigation and improve customer conversion:

The navigation of your eCommerce store is akin to the aisles in a supermarket. Those signs that are clearly numbered and labeled help customers find their way to the products they THINK will be located within them.

And just like the people who plan grocery stores, who know their customers so very well, they make decisions about what to call each aisle, what is inside of them, and how they are ordered.

 

Your eCommerce navigation must provide customers the same level of clarity, ease of use (usually), and anticipation of customer needs / wants.

1.
Make rational or data-driven decisions for changing your navigation.

Ask yourself WHY are you making navigation changes?

Your answers should be something like these:

We have heard from customers that they are having trouble finding X, Y, Z.

We assume that by reorganizing the pages in this new way customers will be able to clearly identify our entire product catalog.

Our top-selling products are actually buried in our current navigation structure, and we want to move them up. We know this because of our analytics and sales reports.

Your business is introducing new products or categories or removing old ones.

Your positioning has changed and you need to place more emphasis on a specific category.

You have hired a researcher to run a card sorting exercise, where they have discovered issues with categorization and naming.

Your answer shouldn’t be:

Because I read your article and made some changes.

No.

Make sure you back up these changes with data, educated assumptions or a hypothesis with associated A/B tests.

2.
DO NOT overcomplicate your main navigation.


Too many navigation items can be confusing. Keep your navigation to 5-6 items, keep them short.

Try to not crowd your navigation area - leave room for your search functionality and cart to have adequate space (they are probably more important too).

3.
Keep your page names extremely simple and direct.

Clever page names can be confusing to users. Be as clear as possible.

Is it the ‘Baked Goods’? Name it baked goods, not ‘Artisan Crafted Wheat and Flour Products’.

Name it ‘Blog’ not ‘Joy’s special sauce’, you get it.

We tend to think our customers will ‘get it’ but truthfully we’re usually confusing people and that leads to lost customers and revenue just because we wanted to be creative.

4.
Do not use too many categories

Be wary of creating too many categories for your store. Too many categories usually lead to decision fatigue. Decision fatigue results in - no sale.

Too many categories quickly become cumbersome on mobile devices, keep that in mind.

Do I really need to decide whether my sunscreen is a balm or oil at this point in my shopping journey or would ‘Sunscreens’ be enough for me to find what I am looking at?

Utilize your product filter instead to handle the small differences in products. 

Ie; balms or oils or creams.

If you have categories with less than 2 items, consider grouping them with another top-level category.

If you have less than 2 products inside all of your categories - maybe you should just use filtering on your entire product line.

5.
Be sure to include "view all" inside each category.

Within your main navigation, you will have your top categories listed either in a large dropdown or mega menu or as individual links.

When you have subcategories make sure to include a ‘View All’ link.

Many customers utilize this ‘View All’  broad product result when they aren't sure what to buy yet or want an overview of the subcategories. Users may need to learn more about the options first or discover items they didn’t previously know about.

6.

Set your navigation titles in sentence case or title case for better readability

Part of a great navigation user experience is simply reading the main navigation easily.


Typefaces are designed for optimal readability and part of that system is aligned to how we, as humans, read best. The purpose of capital letters at the beginning of a word is to allow our eye to easily identify the start of a new thought.

Sentence Case: Is the standard capitalization of the first word of a sentence - in this case, our category, ie; Baked goods

Title Case: Is when you capitalize the first letter of each important word, ie; Baked Goods

These options will always be more readable than all caps or all lowercase category names (or just about anything). It’s just a fact.

Using capitals on each navigation item will be a way to clearly separate them, especially when space is tight.

Adjusting navigation letter spacing can also lead to decreased readability, especially when letters are too tight together or spaced out too wide (this often can cause confusion between one nav item and the next)

7.

Try to make your top product categories visible in the main navigation.

Ideally, you will show all of your categories in your main navigation. This allows customers to quickly scan for where they think they will find the products they are looking for and also discover all of your product types at a glance.

This isn’t possible for some stores of course.

If you have too many categories try to include your top-selling / viewed categories in the main navigation with sub-categories in the dropdowns.

For large product catalogs, you may need to place your categories behind a ‘Shop All’ navigation dropdown.

7.

Try to make your top product categories visible in the main navigation.

 

Ideally, you will show all of your categories in your main navigation. This allows customers to quickly scan for where they think they will find the products they are looking for and also discover all of your product types at a glance.

This isn’t possible for some stores of course.

If you have too many categories try to include your top-selling / viewed categories in the main navigation with sub-categories in the dropdowns.

For large product catalogs, you may need to place your categories behind a ‘Shop All’ navigation dropdown.

If you MUST:

Call extra attention to the ‘Shop All’ navigation item and make it clear through visual design that it contains a sub-menu.


Be sure to include category blocks towards the top of your homepage as an additional path for users to find what they are looking for.

We hope you take these tips and apply them to your store, if you have questions let us know.
If you are interested in talking more please schedule a call with us:

https://calendly.com/ruraldesign

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