Ecommerce Navigation Tips
On ecommerce websites, users find products through two strategies: searching and browsing. Searching involves utilising features such as ‘site search’, drilling down through the website’s various categories. Regardless of the method, users are often faced with a momentous task of sorting through huge product results to find the product they are looking for. Developing your website’s ecommerce navigation improves findability and benefits the overall user experience.
#1 – Site Search
The site search tool can be a significant contributing factor to the overall user-experience, and often an overlooked area of optimisation. Have you tested your own ecommerce website’s site search? Have you ananlysed the site search traffic data? If potential customers are searching for products and recieving a “zero results” page for products you have in stock, your sales potential is heavily reduced.
This problem often occurs if your ecommerce website’s site search thesaurus has not been optimised with synonyms, misspellings and name variations. Obviously it is near impossible to predict and interpret every possible misspelling and variant, so how does an ecommerce provider efficiently find the keywords that are most likely to return?
Besides the obvious usage of site search logs to identify popular searches not returning results, there are a number of different tactics to maximise your site search effectiveness, including:
- Utilise a keyword research tool such as the Google Keyword Tool, Wordstream or Keyword Discovery
- Browse customer reviews to help understand which product attributes your customers are focusing on. This research has the ability to identify long-tail opportunities
- Check out what you competitors are doing, whether it is in their descriptions or titles, see what works for them, and test it yourself.
- Brainstorm! Discovering the common misspellings, language variations, and compound changes becomes an easy process after a few times. Try doubling the l’s, r’s and m’s within words, and vice versa. Break apart compounds, and forge together separate words when it makes sense.
Regardless of whether or not you have a comprehensive thesaurus, the optimisation of the presentation and quality of the results can still bring sinificant benefits. Improve your zero results page: if users are searching for products that your store does not offer, link them to some of your store’s other popular products. Give customers advice on how to use the search feature more effectively, or at least utilise the opportunity to engage with the user.
#2 – Minimise the travel path
So what exactly am I referring to when I mention the travel path? Your website’s travel path simply refers to minimising the amount of clicks it takes for the customer to reach their desired product. It may involve redesigning your website structure or page design, but ensuring customers can reach a product in three clicks or less will decrease your drop-offs and boost your conversion rate.
Develop cross-links between products, brands and categories to encourage the visitor to browse related products. This will usually see a longer time-on-site, a lower bounce rate and a healthier per-visitor-value. Streamline your website’s architecture to ensure visitors are not required to dig deep through your website to find what they are looking for.
#3 – Dynamic refinement options
What I would consider the most beneficial and user-friendly ecommerce tools; dynamic refinement options allow the customer to easily narrow their product selection. The tool is highly efficient; filtering the selection through an array of product attributes (i.e brand, colour, price and size). The success of this ecommerce website tool can be attributed to it’s ability to mirror the physical shopping experience.
This tool helps your website’s customers make their decisions. Dynamic product refinements essentially walk the customers through your website’s virtual aisles; singifcantly decreasing drop-offs and boosting your conversion rates.A shopper will select a product, and then filter through the selection using a set of personal criteria. This criteria is personalised, differing from each person, whether it be the budget, the personal tastes, the sizings or past experiences.
#4 – Offer customer sorting options
Allow your ecommerce website’s customers to sort their search and navigation results. Whether it is by ascdending price, descending price, alphabetical order or something else; allow your customers to easily manupulate their results for a better customer experience.As you may have guessed, these tips are geared towards increasing two key elements of the online shopping experience; findability and usability.
Including a basic sorting option that covers the price, brand or rating of products is a simple, yet effective technique to assist the user. Complimenting this feature with an ‘items per page’ option is an easy method to give the user control over their product search results.Develop the convenience of your website while allowing customers to find the products they seek with ease.
#5 – Testing, testing and more testing
Testing the performance and impact of your website’s search navigation will produce informative and insightful data. The satisfaction level with your website’s search and navigation features should be regularly evaluated to determine your website’s efficiency. Attempt to take the position of a new visitor to the website. Does the website have a smooth flow? Is it easy to find the product the customer is looking for? Does the website encourage the user to browse through other products and brands? These are the questions that you need to ask yourself when evaluating your ecommerce website.