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Best Practices for eCommerce Navigation and Performance

Best Practices for eCommerce Navigation and Performance
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While browsing through the Internet, you must have stumbled upon ecommerce stores with many, many items in their navigation bar. Or the ones that made you turn upside down for the search bar. Or maybe the ones that are slow as hell. These things are certainly not attractive – neither the search engines or the users find them so. The question at hand is, are ecommerce stores forgetting their most important metrics for creating a positive user experience: Navigation and performance?

Navigation Shapes User Experience

Navigation is a fundamental component of every website, ecommerce or not – and one that shapes UX. If your customers can’t find what they’re looking for, they won’t give it a second thought to run to your competitors. But you should and must. Your navigation should be user-friendly, simple and smart – that’s a rule. It’s sad to see many ecommerce stores offending this.

Best Practices:

  • Online shoppers like category search, search filtration, breadcrumbs – give them all that.
  • You just don’t want your customer to face this: They are viewing some product on your store and suddenly notice that there’s no way they can look at something else they desire from right there. So, you must keep your navigation consistent.
  • Semantic search is the future. Embrace it sooner than later to give more relevant search results to your users. Walmart was the first to embrace semantic search (August 2012). And it soon reported to have seen as much as 15% increase in shoppers completing a purchase after making a query.
  • Keep a sensible amount of links on your home page – under 100, suggests Google’s Matt Cutts. A whopping number of links in a web page can have a negative impact on a user’s experience, so this practice should (and must) be avoided.

Examples:

This store doesn’t have any search bar. Except “Guys Tee” no other category has dropdown. The 100% secure payments tag above is clickable – but failing on users’ expectations, it redirects back to the home page.

Walmart, on the other hand, leverages semantic search with auto-suggest functionality, helps users find by category and keeps the highlighted “See All Departments” throughout.

Load Time Might Not Matter Much to You, but It Matters to Them, and Search Engines
In the online world, speed matters. Every millisecond matters. A lot.

  • As much as 40% of your users would abandon your store it takes more than 2 secs to load, a survey by Compuware states.
  • One-second delay results in 7% loss in conversions, another Compuware survey reveals.
  • 74% online shoppers (and 86% in case of frequent ones) would switch their store provided they’re given better speed and UX, a recent survey by Monitis reveals.

In such a scenario, giving a positive shopping experience (one that’s without any lags and fast as hell) as well as standing up to the expectations of the shoppers becomes a real must for every online vendor. Remember, only happy customers come back.

As far as Google is concerned, it counts site speed in its 200+ ranking factors. Here’s what it has to say about it:

“We encourage you to start looking at your site’s speed…not only to improve your ranking in search engines, but also to improve everyone’s experience on the Internet.”

How Can You Increase Your eCommerce Store’s Speed?

  • For maximum performance, make sure that the HTML code for each web page doesn’t exceed 20KB.
  • Never underestimate the importance of specifying the dimensions of images.
  • Use HTML in a compressed format to make sure that repetitive elements don’t cause avoidable lags.
  • Keep cookies less than 400 bytes in size.

Wrapping Up

Performance and navigation of any, every online store are at the heart of forming a positive user experience. Optimizing them is a surefire way to making the lives of your customers easier. And more comfortable.

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Varun Bhagat is a technology geek and works in PixelCrayons as a Sr. Technology Consultant. He possesses in-depth knowledge of different web development technology and helps our clients to choose the best technology as per their needs.

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