Jul 24, 2017

posted by Mark Milankovich

Category Page: e-Commerce Site Best Practices – Part 2

eCommerce Site Best Practices Part 2: Category Page

In the first part of the series we were talking about the homepage. This time we take it from the point where you visitor has chosen a category from that page (or your marketing campaigns are leading traffic to a category page).
Category pages are one of the most iconic elements of an eCommerce website as these are the main navigational points across your products.


Use categories for navigation on your website

As people primarily want or plan to buy something and that’s their main reason to come to your site, they already have something in their mind what they are looking for. This can be an exact product (or product type) or simply an idea, for example, they want to buy a birthday gift for their partner. These intentions should drive your approach when you’re creating your product categories as these are the information what the visitors are looking for.

Basically, you can split category types into two:
Fixed categories for products you always offer, which are your main focus areas. Even category pages by brands, or usage (outdoor, dining, gifts, etc).
Temporary categories when you have something special like discounts, wipe-outs, seasonal offers, limited (edition) offers.

Define your main product lines, group them around the main focus topic. These topics will be your categories! If your store currently has too much categories, card sorting techniques with user interviews can help you get valuable insights in this process and define what should be your top level and subcategories.
This segmentation should be represented also within your menu bar itself to be super clear that you have these product groups and you want to show these to your visitors. (We’ll talk about navigation deeper in the 4th chapter of this series.)


Appearance of those shiny new categories

When you have a structure of categories, you have to decide how you want to show them to the world as there are several options – which you can also combine.
First, you can place them in the menu. Quick navigation, easy to manage and/or change. Similar to this, if having lists on your page, which can hold category listings as well.

If you use lists, there is one important thing you should take into consideration when it comes to sorting those category lists and that is the serial position effect. So based on this you should consider putting your and your visitor's needs into the first and last positions of any list as people tend to remember only the first and last elements and forget the ones in the middle.

Lists are commonly used since we have the ability to write things down, that’s why this will always be a good choice, but lists can evolve so you can use them in a more sexy way in eCommerce like Nespresso does:



If you take away the design, it’s a grouped list of highlighted products, with some super sexy limited edition offers.

So you can place lists in the sidebar, but those category lists do not necessarily need to be designed. Pure and clean appearance works also, like how Jenier Teas is using it:

matcha tea


It’s a category page for Matcha teas (1.) and they have a sidebar to easily navigate between the lists (2.)

You can even put some of your main categories with awesome visuals on your homepage to be sure you give the proper amount of visibility for the most important lists.

So there are several ways to show a category page’s link. Now let’s see what should be there.


The 5 elements of a well functioning eCommerce category page

A good eCommerce category page must contain:
1. Good visuals about the products that create engagement
2. The exact name of the product to make sure it’s the product you’re looking for. (aka. eCommerce Jedi mind trick – for SEO also…)
3. CTA buttons for each product to provide an open door to go deeper in the funnel.
You might also consider:
4. Price: It depends on your sales funnel and pricing policy. If you have special offers for your premium product, you cannot show the price – price range maximum -. If pricing is not the main deal breaker for your products, it is enough to show it before the checkout. In any other situations, the price should also be there on the list as it’s really important for your visitors.
5. Short description: It’s always helpful if you write 1-1 “marketing sentences” for each of your products , or technical parameters can be shown there if those are important acpects of the product. All in all, the most important messages about your products should be on the category page’s list.

These are the five most important type of elements you should create for every product on your category pages.



When the day comes and you feel that your category pages are beyond perfect…
you can think about how they can become more perfect (yes, even more perfect than that…) and then comes the idea: you should work on how you provide different category pages for different users, assembled by their own needs! How can you give them personalized experience and engagement? (In merchant words: better sales performance.)

This can be done in 2 ways:
– Provide a platform for them to choose topics (categories, product lines, brands, etc.) they are interested in, in order to personalize their own account on your site.
– Measure data, create automatic content creation based on the users’ previous behavior.

Both of them need the implementation of a more complex data measurement system and machine learning to teach the system how to assemble those category pages, but the most important is that this type of website behavior is the model of future eCommerce. This need comes from the buyers, so we have to work on it to fulfill their needs.

Until then: create marvelously and well-converting category pages, which your customers will love to use!


Read our eCommerce Site Best Practices Series:

Part 1 – Home Page
Part 2 – Category Page
Part 3 – Product Page
Part 4 – Cart and Checkout Pages
Part 5 – Navigation
Part 6 – Personalization

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