Every shopper should be able to look at a page in your website and answer the questions: Where am I? Where have I been? Where can I go? What is here?

Navigation Structure

There are many ways to build a successful and reliable ecommerce navigation system for your online shop:

  • First rate navigation: for content that users are most likely to hunt for
  • Second rate navigation: for less trending content or any sort of information
  • Horizontal navigation
  • Vertical navigation
  • Drop down navigation

MAIN MENU

Keep it simple

Effective e-commerce navigation should make it as easy as possible for customers to find what they want, and get to the relevant product page as quickly as possible. A user-friendly navigation structure will allow smooth browsing, which ultimately encourages shoppers to continue explore the website and turn them into loyal customers. Grouping subcategories in drop-down menus is a vital part of making them both manageable and scannable; and many online shops have done so. Although, the top level categories shoudn’t be only text labels but clickable elements do not conflict with expectations of majority, who appreciate the headers to be clickable.

Put the same subcategory within multiple main categories when necessary.

When a subcategory could logically appear in multiple parent categories but appears only in one, users are often led astray. It happens that one subcategory may fit to a few parent categories and shoppers expect to find it there. For example, “Chairs” shoppers might look in “Dining Room” and “Living Room” sections. The ideal solution is to think up a completely unambiguous set of parent categories, this is not always realistic. Therefore, to avoid the severe usability problem of shoppers not being able find a subcategory where they expect (which often lead them to conclude that the store simply doesn’t carry the item), consider placing the subcategory in multiple parent categories. There are two main approaches to featuring the same subcategory in multiple parent categories. Each has its advantages and disadvantages:

  • Put the subcategory in one place in the website’s system, then link to that destination in the other parent categories. This may be confusing if the shopper knows they have clicked a link in a menu named “Dining Room” but landed in the “Accessories” section (if your website has the breadcrumbs).
  • Or you could duplicate the categories so that each is a unique entry in the website’s hierarchy, with proper breadcrumb paths, etc. The downside here is technical complexity.

Remark: In Magento it’s easy to prevent duplicate pages, as CMS let you add one product to different categories in one click and set canonical URLs.

SEARCH

Not everyone likes to browse, many of customers have an idea of what they are looking for when they come to your ecommerce website. Some of them will go straight to the search box, meaning this tool does not only have to be easy to find, but it must be effective. Here are a few tips on making your search box and results usable!

Search boxes are placed on top of the web shop

Usability guru, Jacob Nielson, did a study that revealed 56% of shoppers look for the search box in the upper right hand corner, while 44% look for it in the upper left. In other words, these are two ideal options for the search box location.

Show customers what they’re searching for!

  • Repeat the search text on the results page so users can confirm their search
  • Make sure your search results are accurate!
  • Unless you are selling fonts, you should use images in the search results. This way, shopeprs can start shopping right away.

Show them what is relevant

Shoppers are expecting to see relevant items related to the search terms they submit, so make sure that all items are tagged properly. It is also a good idea to offer “Sort by Relevance”, that customers know you are showing them a wider range of products for their benefit.

Give customers the power to improve search results

Remark: Magento has native search functionality that with proper configuration works properly, but it still lacks advanced functionality. More information on how to improve Magento search you can find here.

Maintain the homepage navigational framework

Keep the search results within your shop’s main framework so shoppers can easily navigate to another area after they are done viewing the search results.

Make something out of nothing

Instead of showing customers a dead-end page that says “No Matches Found” or “Better Luck Next Time,” show them the closest thing you have got.

Search boxes and action buttons should be simple

Keep the design of search box simple and also include an action button to let users “Search,” “Find,” “Go,” or “Submit.”

Use auto-complete

Auto-complete is a great way to improve the effectiveness of online shop search and minimise the risk of misspellings and therefore inaccurate results.

FILTERING

Getting filtering improves findability and lets shoppers to find the product they want in less time. If they can’t find the exact product they require in the minimal time, there is a good chance they will go to a shop where they can. Lets take a look on how people look at 10,000 items once they are sorted. Usability researches demonstrate that people normally see a very small number of items in each search result set. Many shoppers do not view even the second page of results, and almost noone goes past the third page of results. To avoid customers confusion most designers place sorting options in a drop-down list that is as far as possible from the search box, as well as any filters which are often on the left. Due to poor search results shoppers are sometimes cautious of shop searches and will often browse through the website to find a desired item. For users that are browsing in order to find a product, filtering within a category is fundamental to enhance product findability. Filters allow customers reduce the number of items within a product list, by filtering out products that don’t fit to specific criteria. This is often more useful for customers who have a certain level of knowledge about the product they need. The product listing uses commonly-used filters such as ‘Price’, “Manufacture”, “Category”, “Color” etc. which many users will be familiar with.

Remark:  Good examples of proper filtering are Magento stores, the CMS has standard layered navigation which lets you set different types of filtering options. For more advanced filtering solutions you should contact ecommerce website development company like us 😉