One of the most promising initiatives that you can take to improve revenue generation from your e-Commerce site is to optimize site navigation. In this four-part blog series, I’d like to walk you through the building blocks of an optimization strategy that can lead to a consistent, positive revenue outcome from your existing e-Commerce site.

Key Takeaways:

  • Site navigation has a significant impact on the visitor experience
  • Optimal navigation is brand specific
  • You need a strategy along with the proper technology

Navigation is all about usability and findability: no matter how simple or complicated your e-Commerce website may be, your on-site navigation must help all types of visitors find what they’re looking for. Secondary navigation, or the part of your navigation menu that is page-specific, is essential to helping your visitors reach their final destination. If you are new to this blog series, we also recommend checking out our previous installment about primary navigation.

Here are a few examples of typical secondary navigation options on real-world e-Commerce sites:

Home Page – Secondary Navigation

Homepage Secondary navigation menu

Sub-Category Page – Secondary Navigation

Example of a subcategory menu for a secondary navigation menu

Secondary navigation on category or sub-category page templates can be quite elaborate with many options, making a one-size-fits-all approach to navigation sub-optimal. I’ve attempted to group some secondary aspects of your navigation menu below in order to provide a few starting points for your navigation optimization campaign.

Taxonomy

These are the navigation links that provide direct routes to other product categories or sub-categories on your e-Commerce site. For example:

Taxonomy navigation menu

If you’re looking to optimize these links, we recommend that you experiment with the following aspects of your taxonomy navigation options:

Change Placement: In the many cases, taxonomy-type navigation options are prominently placed at the top of the list. It make sense to move them around as a way of focusing the visitor on other product grouping options.

Change Link Order: Within the same taxonomy list, you should explore the order of links. Visitors tend to read in a particular order, and something that comes first has a much higher chance of being clicked on then something that comes later.

Sorting Options

Secondary navigation often provides different product sorting options, enabling the visitor to find the desired product based on different product attributes. In the example below, a visitor can filter products that are categorized within a certain price range, color, size, or shoe width.

Secondary Navigation sorting for e-commerce site selling shoes

Similar to taxonomy, we recommend the following experimentation options:

Change Placement: It makes sense to move sorting options around as a way of focusing the visitor on product options that are specific to user needs. This includes price, size, and/or color.

Change Order: Consider changing the order in which options are presented within the same category.

Presentation

In addition to functional aspects of the secondary navigation menu, it is also critical to explore the impact of visual experiences.

Style: You should experiment with multiple aspects of the presentation style, such as font size, font type, color, and other visual aspects. For example, simplifying the size selection a bit and making it more pronounced by turning a dashed line around each size into a solid line produced a 24% RPV lift:

Size and width secondary navigation sorting options

Expand / Collapse Drop Downs: Often times secondary navigation options have further layers of sub-navigation; we recommend experimentation with one or more of sub sections being expanded; For example, sorting options can be presented in expanded or collapsed mode:

Example of expanding dropdowns for secondary navigation

Layout

Historically, we’ve observed a lot of secondary navigation menus placed on the left side of the website, presented in a stacked or vertical fashion. Lately, however, we’re finding that companies are experimenting with adopting horizontal sub-navigation options, like the one shown below:

Horizontal Sub Navigation Example from a secondary navigation menu.

In the final installment of this blog post series, we will talk about implementation issues, such as how to design and implement navigation options, how to select proper optimization technology, and how to read and use the results.