How to make it easier for customers to navigate through the online store?
The construction of an online store can be a considerable undertaking, especially when the range of available products is rich and very diverse. But many different factors can determine the success of an online store. Undoubtedly one of them is the ease with which customers can navigate through the online store and whether they find the products/services they need or desire. So how can you help your customers to successfully navigate through the online store?
Limiting the distracting elements
An e-store should only contain what’s really needed, the most vital elements. Excess advertising, graphics and even strange functions might make it difficult to navigate through the online store, not to mention that they may discourage a user from making purchase progress. The construction of the store should be clear, obvious and functional. The less uniquely strange options the better, but of course innovations are always welcome, as long as they are moderate, uncomplicated and pleasing to the eye. Copying or inspiring yourself with schemes and concepts from other well-received websites may be a good idea, however don’t make this too obvious and never copy direct content in form of writing, programmes or graphics. Such duplication may cost your site a lot, as Google bots will pick up on that and could even ban you or punish your website. E-stores should always be unique to the extent that a customer will remember your website for future and will be able to distinguish that it’s yours. We can only do this by nailing its design and navigation.
Moving around the online store – navigation
The online store should have a complex, but very intuitive menu. Careful headings and fonts should be chosen for both product categories and descriptions of specific products or services. Headlines are important not only for users of the e-store, but also for search engine robots. An online store page with keywords, optimised images and headers has a chance to rank higher in search results because it fulfils the search engine criterion. The headers must have the correct format and hierarchy, i.e. we do not use a lower-order header (e.g. H4) if the header of the higher order (H2 and H3) does not appear in the text.
The site-map also has an impact on efficiently navigating through the online store. A site-map is essentially a list of all subpages of an e-store (or any other webpage). It’s also vital to bear in mind that if you are listing products on your website then various filters (e.g. black / grey / blue t-shirts) need to be included. Filters help the users to navigate quickly because they will immediately be able to find a product that they’re looking for, and they don’t have to hassle with spending hours with browsing – they can select or deselect a few filters that narrow down their search and voila!
Internal links system
Internal linking is important both from the point of view of SEO and the unanimous user who, thanks to links, can easily reach the sub-page of the product he is currently reading about. For example, if he/she is reading an interesting review posted on the blog or a news post involving the product/service, then a direct link may help the reader to quickly be transported to the page where a purchase can be made. Internal linking shortens the search time and makes it much easier to navigate the online store, but above all it advertises a specific product very well.
Other elements that improve the navigation through the online store:
Theoretically it’s a simple and obvious feature, but unfortunately there are a mass of online stores where a search bar does not exist or is located in such a complicated location that an average customers may find it difficult to notice. Meanwhile, a large number of online store users are sick of browsing through a site for hours just to find one item, and the first thing they look for upon entering a website is a search bar where they can enter a keyword and be instantly greeted with a relevant subpage. It’s so simple, yet so useful, and it’s absence really discourages a lot of potential customers who find online shopping more of a chore than physical shopping. This is especially the case for the elderly.
CTA buttons not only encourage a purchase, but they trigger a specific reaction from a user; this significantly shortens the search time and the overall completion of the purchase transaction. The buttons should contain catchy slogans and interesting colours or fonts. In other words, they must stand out and be apparent in order to bring any attraction and effect.
No registration required
It’s ideal if shopping online on a webstore can be done by anyone, not necessarily a registered user. Of course, the e-store owners prefer the requirement of a full registration with (often unnecessary) various data, although in reality it is better to avoid that ‘requirement’ and thus sell a lot more products to unregistered ‘guest’ users who won’t be frightened by the whole registration process. In the end, nowadays a lot of people are sensitive regarding the data protection subject.