When websites are designed, various aspects such as user experience patterns, preferences, conventions and branding have to be taken into account. The store’s values and personality must be expressed by the design aspect which should also provide conversion optimized and intuitive navigation that will be helpful for the shoppers. The key to eCommerce business is product findability as customers cannot buy products that they cannot find. Navigation can manage chaos as it is a versatile and dynamic means to guide and drive traffic online. A study by MarketingCharts found that 69% of marketers believe in the importance of personalized and dynamic content for their website.
An e-commerce website design which has a functional navigation system can allow the users to effortlessly browse the inventory. This allows the users to navigate through the site with ease to find what they need thereby achieving their objectives. Customers will abandon the eCommerce website if they find even slight difficulty in using or managing any options in the website. Users will not spend the entire day surfing through the website hoping to find what they need. In the current competitive business landscape, user-friendly design aspects in a website are a must. If an engaging navigation structure and website layout is not introduced, users will move towards more forward thinking competitors resulting in poor lead generation, revenue-growth operations and conversion optimization.
Here are the different ways to improve e-commerce website navigation:
Keep number of Clicks to Minimum:
Effective e-commerce navigation must make it possible for users to find the exact product that they are looking for by employing the least number of clicks as possible. If a product cannot be found by the user after a few tries, they will definitely abandon the website and check out the competitor’s website. There are various methods of preventing this but a large part of it is dependent on the mindset of the consumer. If the user knows what they are looking for, they might directly use the search bar to get the relevant results and directly go to the product page. But some of them will head for the navigation bar and browse by category.
By carefully choosing the grouping of the product category, the number of clicks can be minimized. A dropdown control must be provided that will allow the users to select how many product they want to view at one go. With increasing internet speeds, users are more likely to wait for the product pages to load rather than clicking several times.
Include Search Option:
The search bar is one of the most important tools for navigating an e-commerce website. It must be present at the top of every page on the website as a shopper can decide to search for an item at any given time. The visitors to an e-commerce website are either window shoppers, who browse through the products by going through the categories, or those looking for a specific product who will directly search for the product on the search bar.
A study found that users who used search option on e-commerce website A Study On E-commerce Website to the overall revenue. The search bar can help customers and visitors to make inquiries regarding a product without having to go through the trouble of finding a product. It can also assist potential customers in carrying out research about the website and get to know the kind of products that is sold there.
Introduce Same Subcategory Within Multiple Main Categories:
Sometimes a particular subcategory can be categorized under multiple parent categories but is usually shown under only one. This can lead to a lot of confusion. It is better to include the subcategories under all the parent categories rather than making the visitors to look for it. For example, a printer can be included both under ‘electronics’ as well as ‘Home & Office’. Therefore, rather than creating usability problems for users wherein they fail to find a subcategory where they expect, which can lead to them thinking that the product does not exist, the subcategory must be put in multiple parent categories. To prevent SEO penalties arising out of duplicate pages, unique pages must be created for the sub categories so that they remain relevant to the parent category.
Introduce a ‘What’s New’ Category:
Regular visitors are very well aware of the products that are available on the website and can be benefited by the ‘What’s New’ feature as they don’t have to browse through the old collection again. The feature can be included in the navigation bar as well as the product filter. There is no doubt that the ‘What’s New’ option can easily support return visitors in easily identifying new products that have arrived since their last visit.
The New Arrivals option can play an important role in industries where the newness factor can affect the purchasing decision of the consumers. New releases usually attract gift buyers who want to buy a product that is not already owned by the gift recipient.
Display Alternative and Supplementary Product Suggestions:
E-commerce websites must have an option to list out alternative products, accessories, add-ons and substitutes to the product that the shopper is currently viewing so that they can easily find different products to supplement their purchase which would have otherwise been tough to find. This is an effective way of upselling and cross-selling and if implemented properly, can really make it easier for users to shop on the website. Supplementary product suggestion can help users to find accessories or add-ons to the product that they wish to purchase while suggesting similar products can help users to find substitutes or alternatives to the products.
If a user arrives on a product page which does not meet their criteria, they usually abandon the website or look for substitutes or alternatives. Users will be patient initially and look for substitutes, but if the process involves going through the list of products again they will quickly grow tired and leave the website. Listing substitutes and alternatives will allow them to seamlessly go from one product to the next thereby keeping the user engaged and increasing the chances of the user going through the checkout process.
Display ‘Recently Viewed’ Items:
The recently viewed option allows users to go back and look at products they might have forgotten about or to compare features of previous product with the new one before taking a decision to purchase. E-commerce websites which do not possess the ‘recently viewed items’ option forces the users to click the back button which takes them through the product categories once again.
A ‘Recently Viewed Items’ list usually consists of rows of products which was previously visited by the user. It is a history based feature which only includes products and not categories or other pages. The list is usually present at the bottom of the product page or along the sidebar. The list must be made available on every page of the website as long as the user is browsing through the website as they can easily return to the previously visited product if they find themselves stuck at the category page.
Use Optimized Product Images and Graphics:
The images of all the products and banners on the e-commerce website must be optimized before uploading to the website and must be of high-resolution. Using icons is also a good option as it saves a lot of time. The pictures should be appropriately positioned and also in the right mannerism. The attention span of users on a website when they first open the website and hence the visual aspect of the website has to influence the users to stay on the website within this tight time frame. When the users click on a particular picture and are redirected to another page, the images on that page must also correspond simultaneously.
Irrespective of the time spent on the aesthetics, optimization of landing pages and product images of e-commerce websites, the overall experience of the customer will suffer if basic e-commerce elements such as arrangement of categories, etc. are not improved. But designing a category-based navigation that is user friendly is not an easy task as it requires systematic labeling, information architecture, curated subcategory pages, logical hierarchy and a balanced home page design. Having really bad e-commerce website navigation can have devastating consequences which involves not only abandonment of website but also permanent damage to the brand.