The online marketplace is growing and competition is fierce. There is intense competition for keywords that can complicate the processes of optimizing for SEO or creating a successful PPC campaign. Google’s updates can create shifts that hinder your rankings. Generating a good ranking and a steady flow of paid or organic traffic takes a lot of work and can be expensive. Why then, would you ever allow your online store to contain features that would harm your conversion rate or increase your bounce rate?
You wouldn’t, as long as you could help it. Ultimately, every feature of your eCommerce website design should have the value of your website’s brand in mind, improve user experience and help to move visitors down the eCommerce sales funnel. That means that no aspect of your website design should take a backseat, but with that in mind, the importance of easy, intuitive navigation cannot be overlooked.
You already spent time and money getting customers to your website, and the navigational hierarchy of your website has a huge impact on conversions and bounce rate. Whether a customer decides to pursue a product and check out or takes one look at your home page and exits the page can be impacted by the navigational features of your website, and in a big way.
More Important Now Than Ever
In the wake of COVID-19, many businesses are adjusting to the “new normal.” For many in eCommerce, the new normal just entails higher sales, but for some businesses it has become a critical issue to get online in order to reach a broader market and stay afloat. Our team understands how valuable eCommerce can be not only to survival but to success, and as more and more shoppers turn to the online market to buy necessities and luxuries alike, learning how to fine tune a website for user experience has become more important than it ever was.
As mentioned, one of these most important features is the navigational hierarchy of your website; If you find your business leaning increasingly on eCommerce as a channel, consider these following points.
Provide Logical, Robust Navigational Tools
There isn’t necessarily one right or wrong way to set up a good navigational hierarchy to diminish bounce and increase conversions. Rather, you should take all of the circumstances surrounding your business into account and offer a good mix of elements. That is, you shouldn’t rely too heavily on one tool to enable your customers to navigate your website.
For example, mobile shoppers prefer to scroll or click through a website, and typing should be kept to a minimum, but that does not mean you should remove a search bar from your mobile design, even if most of your shoppers come through mobile channels. If you remove the search bar, you’ll be making it more difficult for some shoppers to precisely find what they want; and that can hinder conversions. In a situation like this, for example, you should place an emphasis on a mega menu or category panels rather than on a search bar; you shouldn’t remove it from appearing on mobile devices.
Across your platforms, you should provide for more than one method of navigation. Your website should offer search functionality, because there are going to be situations in which customers need to be able to find a specific product, regardless of how comprehensive and complete your other features are. Whether your mega menu is front and center, you rely on search, or you provide prominent feature buttons or tiles for popular categories or bestsellers, they should be right in front of the customer, present your products favorably, and be easy to use.
You should also provide a logically structured and simplified menu or a carefully designed mega menu that presents your products in an easily digestible format, especially if your business sells a large list of items that should be categorized according to use, purpose, manufacturer, or any other distinguishing factor.
Best Practices for User-Friendly Navigation
While there isn’t one good way to define what gives a site an easy or logical navigational hierarchy, when you achieve one, it will minimize your bounce rate and increase conversions. In short, those that get to your website and can find what they are looking for are less likely to drop off the page and more likely to buy what they needed in the first place. Take some of these examples following best practices into account when you are reevaluating the structure of your eCommerce website design for a better UX.
1. Display Navigational Features Prominently
Possibly the most important feature of “easy” navigation is that it is visible. Your menu, your search bar, or your category listings won’t do any good if they aren’t front and center. It’s a good practice to list your menu or your mega menu at the top of your home page. Your search bar should be somewhere near the top and visible. It’s a good bet that some of you reading this have left a website simply because you couldn’t find the search bar. Don’t let that problem befall your own eCommerce site.
Here’s an example from a real eCommerce site; our own. Check out how our menu is easily accessible from the top of the screen of our homepage, is not overwhelming, and consists of several easily navigable portals to our most popular services.
At the same time, if you use tiles for navigating through bestsellers, popular brands or products, or related categories, they should be displayed somewhere at or near the top of the homepage. At the very least, they should be a part of the most prominent features of the homepage, even if it is only one section of a banner or slider that commands attention.
2. Category and Product Pages Should Be Logically, Sequentially Arranged
It might sound subjective to assert that category and product pages should be logically or sequentially arranged, but there’s some method to that statement.
For example, if you sell clothes and your online store has a mega menu, it would make sense for both t-shirts and sweaters to be categorized under “tops” even though they aren’t the same type of top. At the same time, even if someone bought the same sweater with a similar pair of pants, it doesn’t make too much sense to list them together in a menu. That would be a good opportunity to list a link to those pants on the category or product page containing the sweater under a “customers also liked” collection. It’s still logical but it doesn’t contravene the previous statement.
The importance of logical, sequential arrangement doesn’t end at the layout of your menu; it extends to the category and product pages themselves. It can be very easy to get lost in an online store with thousands of products that are not logically arranged, so make sure you take the time to set it up in a reasonable manner.
To that end, see the above image of our website showing our menu’s arrangement? Look at where it says eCommerce SEO in the menu; there is a little arrow pointing downward indicating that there is more beneath that category. If you click on it, you will see the following:
Underneath our collection of eCommerce SEO services we also offer SEO services specific to given industries and platforms, as well as lead generation services. It’s so straightforward you probably almost didn’t need the explanation. That’s the value of a logical, sequential arrangement.
3. Promote High Conversion Categories
By “promote high conversion categories” we don’t mean that advertising should focus on those products, although that is also a good idea. What we mean is that if there is a way for you to capitalize on cross-selling or high-performing categories, you should.
Oftentimes, this takes the form of a tile that will lead customers to bestsellers, popular products, or featured items on sale, right from the homepage, and without having to search or otherwise look for it through the menu. It’s a quick way to get interested customers in front of products they might not have found so easily otherwise, and a great way to boost conversions.
Consider how we achieved this for our client, Love My Swag, via the image below.
That portion of the homepage is a short scroll from the top of the screen, and if you were wondering, it’s an arrangement of tiles directing traffic to some of their most popular designers, such as Meira T, Julie Vos, and Vahan jewelry. It’s easy to access and a great way to promote high-conversion categories like their best selling brands.
There are other features that may be specific to your industry or your shoppers that might better enhance conversions and lower bounce rate as related to navigation, but to uncover them, you should work with some expert eCommerce designers like those here at 1DigitalⓇ Agency.
Our eCommerce web designers and developers have worked on many different platforms and projects in various industries and know that each one presents a unique shopping experience. Customers shopping through diverse industries have different preferences and needs, and the team at our digital agency has seen a bit of it all. If you’d like some personal insight into what it takes to provide high-quality navigational features and would like to see them enacted as a portion of Shopify or BigCommerce design services, then get in touch with our team at 855-768-8879 and we’ll help you get on your way to an eCommerce website that is optimized for user experience, and not just through navigation.
- Michael Esposito
- July 29, 2020