Achieving Profitable E-Commerce Navigation
Satisfactory user experience is the driving force behind today’s most profitable e-commerce sites. When users can’t quickly find the product they’re looking for online, or struggle to navigate a website in general, businesses can expect to experience high bounce rates, decreasing traffic and an overall slump in sales. On the contrary, when an e-commerce website offers visitors a heightened level of navigability, businesses can expect to witness increases in revenue and profit. But what specifically makes for an e-commerce site that’s truly user-friendly?
One of the easiest ways to design a more user-friendly e-commerce site is to establish hierarchical site architecture. Whether your business prefers a flat or deep style of architecture, the key is to ensure that products are easily discoverable. This entails organizing pages by parent and subcategories to save users the hassle of searching through numerous web pages to find the product they’re looking for. To start, organize all product listings within specific parent categories. For example, the subcategory “Women’s Leather Boots” should be found within a “Women’s Shoes” parent category, rather than within a more general “Shoes” category. A drop-down menu feature is ideal for achieving this streamlined search process.
When applicable, businesses should also distribute a subcategory among multiple parent categories. Why? It’s important to remain cognizant of all of the ways in which your visitors might attempt to locate a product. While a “Scarves” subcategory is an appropriate fit within a “Women’s Clothing” parent category, it also makes sense to list this subcategory under something like “Accessories,” too. According to smashingmagazine.com, it’s further important that every parent category be linked to a landing page that features a variety of subcategory products, as many shoppers may be uncertain of exactly which type of product they’re interested in at first. Requiring a shopper to decide which brand of laser printer they want to explore from the outset could be the factor that deters them from spending more time on the site altogether.
Offer Product Suggestions
Product suggestion pages and features are effective ways of directing customers to explore additional product options while increasing conversion rates. When a customer visits a product listing that doesn’t fully meet his or her criteria, a product suggestion for a similar item can encourage a customer to continue shopping. Even creating “Most Popular” or “Just In” web pages can serve as beneficial tools for customers, while still driving sales for businesses.
Engage in Heat Mapping
Heat mapping is an innovative tool that allows businesses to track the behavior of its site visitors. A heat mapping program can offer real-time analytics about which web pages users visit the most, how long users stay on certain web pages, and the number of times each link within a website is clicked. These statistics will appear as a heat map to site administrators, with hotter colors appearing on sections of a website that experience high traffic, and cooler colors appearing near sections with low traffic. Businesses can leverage heat mapping to their advantage by making changes according to the analytics provided. Perhaps heat mapping reveals that links that feature calls to action receive more traffic than those that don’t, or maybe a business discovers certain product links receive hardly any traffic at all. With this information at hand, businesses can swiftly make appropriate adjustments to provide visitors with a better user experience.
Consider Auto-Complete Searches
To help users find specific products, a good e-commerce site will feature a search bar at the top each e-commerce web page; however, a great e-commerce site will implement a search bar with auto-complete. How does auto-complete work? The instant a letter is entered into a search bar, matching product listings will appear in a drop down box, complete with images, prices and links to product pages. This can eliminate the need for a visitor to search through various parent categories. Auto-complete searches also benefit the customer that knows the specific product name he or she is ready to purchase.
Organize by Icons and Colors
Another way to improve user experience on an e-commerce site is to list subcategories with accompanying icons. For example, a drop-down box with subcategories that feature different types of living room furniture could be described with both text and a simplistic icon that allows visitors to more quickly identify the type of furniture they’re looking for. The same can be said for color; for the company that offers numerous products in varying colors (especially for sites selling clothing or shoes), organizing products by color might be a more efficient way for customers to find their desired product.
Designing an optimally-navigable e-commerce site is no easy feat, and can require the upkeep of a variety of site components. To make managing a profitable e-commerce site easier, many businesses turn to web design companies with expertise in e-commerce design.