Andras Marcell Marko

Sep 28, 2017

posted by Andras Marcell Marko

Navigation: e-Commerce Site Best Practices – Part 5

ecommerce site best practices tips for navigation

Recently we talked about the perfect product page. But how do customers get there? Navigation design is one of the most interesting parts of e-commerce site planning.


Navigation: the backbone and spinal cord of your e -store

Let’s list the requirements of transparency from several aspects of marketing:

– User Experience (UX):  Your visitors’ primary needs are easy navigation, to find everything, to be able to step back without losing relevant information and invested efforts. Also, the users need lubricated ways to choose another options, to be able to find a broad passage to another part of  the store.  To provide this your website architecture must strictly correlate with the navigation menu. Using smart  breadcrumbs  ( enabling users to filter and save their search results via breadcrumbs ) is a firm statement of professionalism. Attaching a plug and play semantic search engine also results in a huge takeaway what customers will remember.

– Sales: If you want to cross- or upsell, or just want to provide the variety of similar products, you need to build up that pyramid from your products and product categories. If your visitor cannot navigate easily between your products, they’ll be more likely to leave your site instead of browsing and considering a purchase.

– Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The navigation along with the menu bar bears the core communication to your customers about your products. Google search algorithms, when digging into your site consider the menu bar as an important part. Also, Google scans your entire website, and if your store structure does not correlate with the navigation options, that can lead to your store is going to get misunderstood which can massively inflict your organic traffic. Remember, organic traffic is pure gold in online marketing so be transparent and communicate coherently to people and to search engines.


Types of navigation

There are two primary types: fix (permanent) and temporary navigation items. (See the same with the categories.)

Fix categories are filled with core products ( categories  what you’d always  like to show in your e-store) They can not be empty, these are the products you always have; these are also parts of your brand-building activities.

Temporary menu items can be ad-hoc offers, monthly discounts or special offers. You can use them to give some of your content a little boost in reach, or use them to promote something new, something super cool, etc.


How Long should your Menu be?

It’s hard to say and harder to decide what to show in your menu if you have a plethora of products and services.

As a golden rule you can take George A. Miller’s Magical number seven rule where he states that normal human brain can remember a maximum of seven items ( plus minus 2 )  from a list ( from a menu)

In website navigation, just like in any list, items at the beginning and the end are most useful, because these are where attention and retention are the highest. It’s called the serial position effect that apply the following cognitive biases:

* Primacy effect: Items at the beginning of a list are more easily remembered.

* Recency effect: Items at the end of a list (or things that just happened) are more easily recognized.


The Menu Bar

The menu bar is the heart of your e-store, as:

– It describes your portfolio within a few seconds for those arrived to your website.

-That’s the main user flow management tool in your arsenal to make them go to those pages you want them to see.

-That’s the main and most important navigation point in your e-store so use those words in the menu what your visitors use. You can get keyword suggestions from Google Keyword Tool to get the exact words you should use: the customers are going to be more familiar with your products and also it’ll be a great SEO opportunity.


How should the Menu Bar Look Like?

A recent study showed that mega menus are worth to reconsider. On an e-commerce site, where you have the huge variety of products, a basic dropdown menu hiding and blocking much content from your visitors, obviously has a detrimental effect on sales, and customers will  move on to another store to find the stuff you have, but don’t show.

Mega menus need better visualization with icons and bigger images as menu elements. One of our favorite eCom store clearly showcases this example  ( check the dropdown menus)

Moleskine menu design


The Side Menu


If you face that you cannot show all the  important elements within the menu bar – it’s still a viable way to show the content  from a lower-priority shelf.

Or give some page-specific navigation options which should not appear in any other place. Like on Jenifer World of Teas:

Navigation example at the Janifer tea store


The content suggestions

One more thing that sometimes gets forgotten to handle as navigation: promo boxes.

Harvey Nichols has a convenient and stylish version for this.

Navigation example at the Harvey Nichols e-store


It looks like a branded promotion on the site. It is.

But if you look behind the scenes a bit, you see that these promo boxes will lead you to the most important pages on this e-commerce site to see the most relevant products. That’s the key. Show what you have and show it engagingly and stylishly, so your visitors will enjoy hanging on your website.


Create a personalized path for your users

MarTech has the solutions to build personalized website navigation structure, based on your visitor’s preferences and browsing history.

It can be easily implemented: for example, if you use those promo boxes mentioned above, your website will be able to serve those contents personalized for every visitor.

Personalized buyer journey for all of your potential customers. Sounds good, right?


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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