What is Site Navigation?
Site navigation, which is also called faceted search or attribute navigation, is a tool that helps shoppers focus on the products they are interested in. By letting shoppers refine their searches by choosing the specific attributes of the products they are looking for, site navigation allows them to narrow down the search results to only the most relevant products.
Site navigation should not be confused with filters. Filters help shoppers find the categories of products they are interested in (such as “Electronics” or “Home and Kitchen”). However, since each category may contain more than ten thousand products of different types, sorting through them all in order to find the product you are looking for is sure to be very frustrating and time consuming work.
Site navigation gives the shoppers the freedom to narrow down the filter results in accordance with their preferences. For example, when a shopper is searching for a laptop, they would probably want to refine the thousands of results they received by different laptop attributes, such as brand, processor type, screen size etc. Site navigation allows them to do just that, with efficiency and speed.
The Importance of Site Navigation
As mentioned above, online shoppers have become very sophisticated, and they expect online stores to cater to their specific needs. An online store that does not allow them to move swiftly, and find what they are looking for with ease is not worth their time.
Site navigation is an integral part of providing shoppers with such user experience. Instead of letting the shoppers browse for hours through more results than they can handle, site navigation helps minimize the irrelevant browsing time by showing the shoppers only the results relevant to them. Quick and efficient navigation makes for a much better shopping experience (which becomes even more critical in mcommerce). This of course translates into higher conversion rates and sales.
Site Navigation Means a Better User Experience
Site navigation eliminates the need to rephrase and readjust search queries. Even if the initial search does not produce only relevant results, there is no need to go back and try to find the exact phrasing that would. Using site navigation, shoppers can refine the results by selecting the attributes most relevant to the product they are interested in. For this to work efficiently, however, the seller must offer shoppers attributes that are relevant for their search.
Site navigation also helps shoppers find new products in your store. As the shoppers navigate through the different attributes your online store offers, they discover new brands, different types of products they weren’t familiar with, and additional attributes they would not have otherwise known about. The new findings encourage the shoppers to invest more time in looking for new products in the store.
In addition, site navigation allows sellers to offer a larger amount of products in their online stores. Without site navigation tools, sellers must rethink the number of products they sell in the store, if they want the shoppers to see everything that is on offer. Too many products will be difficult to handle and frustrating. But with site navigation, which allows for refinement according relevancy, shoppers can browse through much more products. This makes it possible for sellers to offer much more products in their store.
How to Improve Site Navigation
When creating a site navigation tool in their online store, sellers should consider several important aspects:
The Shopper is the Key: Site navigation and the attributes offered should be useful to the widest range of shoppers as possible. In order to know which are the most useful, sellers have to familiarize themselves with their customers’ searching habits. Using search analytics allows sellers to track the most common trends among their customers (such as search keywords, page access, etc.), and to understand their habits. This information then allows the sellers to improve current attributes and add new ones, as needed.
Number of Attributes: Just as you want to avoid overwhelming the shoppers with thousands of results, sellers should avoid offering too many attributes to navigate through, especially if some are irrelevant. Search analytics helps sellers find out which attributes are useful and which ones are not, and add or remove attributes accordingly. It also helps sellers decide what is the optimal number of attributes they should offer.
Sellers should also make sure the attributes offered correspond to the categories, and remove any irrelevant ones. For example, a shopper looking for a pair of jeans should not be offered to refine the results by a ‘screen size’ attribute.
Multiple Attributes Application: Depending on the number of products you sell in your online store, shoppers will probably need to apply more than just one attribute to refine the results sufficiently. In order to really zoom in on the product they are looking for, they are likely to apply multiple attributes in their navigation. For example, applying only the ‘size’ attribute to a jeans search will return way too many results to be manageable, whereas also applying the ‘brand’, ‘fit’, ‘closure’ and ‘pattern’ attributes, will certainly return much more precise and relevant results.
Customized Attributes: It is recommended to use attributes that are customized to different types of products. Even though these attributes may still return a large number of results, they help direct shoppers towards the type of products most relevant to them. Once there, they can use other attributes to further refine the results. For example, adding customized attributes such as ‘gaming’, ‘graphic design’ and ‘casual computing’ in the “Laptops” category, increases the chances that the shoppers will find exactly what they are looking for.
Customized attributes also cater to buyers who are “browsers”, providing an excellent place to begin their window-shopping. They find an attribute that is interesting to them, and just dive in to see what is on sale there.
Display the Number of Possible Results: Sellers can show shoppers how efficient their navigation is by displaying the number of products for each attribute. If applying a certain attribute will return only slightly less results, then the shoppers know that it is inefficient and that selecting it will not get them much closer to what they are looking for, and vice versa. Moreover, shoppers may use the number of products as a way to quickly narrow down results, simply by selecting the ones that slice a large number of results.
Create the User Experience Your Customers Demand
Today’s online shoppers have high demands with regards to site navigation. To meet these demands, sellers must create a navigation tool that will give shoppers a positive user experience, by allowing them to refine their searches quickly and efficiently using attributes. In order to properly set up a site navigation tool that meets the shoppers expectations, you have to get to know them better.