Making It Know

Basic Website Navigation for an Online Store

Basic website navigation is essential to launching an effective online presence. It enables visitors to easily explore your website and find the information they’re looking for. When you’re selling products or services online, good navigation becomes that much more important. It can be the difference between a customer abandoning their cart or completing a sale, and it’s a key factor in whether or not people think your brand is trustworthy.

Learn how to build ecommerce navigation that makes it easy for new and returning customers to find products and make a purchase from your online store.

What is ecommerce navigation?

Ecommerce navigation is a type of website navigation that encourages visitors to make a purchase from your store. Good ecommerce navigation will help people find the right products, add them to their cart, and checkout without hitting any speed bumps. 

If you already have an online store, you can measure the success of your ecommerce navigation with tools like commerce analytics, which help you see the performance of specific products and landing pages. For example, if you find that many people bounce from your store before purchasing — meaning they leave your website from a specific landing page to go explore another corner of the internet —  it’s likely that the root cause is your website’s navigation. The landing page might not have the information users expected, or it might be missing a clear CTA to direct users to the next step in their journey. Analytics can help you understand what’s working — and what isn’t — about your website navigation, and help you refine your navigation over time.

Many website builders offer website templates that have built-in navigation elements to set your store up for success. Squarespace ecommerce templates are built with site navigation best practices that encourage visitors to become customers.

Important navigation elements for your online store

Whether you’re starting an online store or looking to improve your current ecommerce website navigation, here are best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Organized menu

A dropdown menu is the foundation of good ecommerce navigation. Usually found at the top of every landing page on your site, an effective menu will organize your products by category and subcategory. For example, an online clothing store with a “Shirts” category in its dropdown might include subcategories like “Short Sleeve” and “Long Sleeve” so customers can find exactly what they need. Categories and subcategories also help search engines understand the products you sell, and make them more discoverable for online shoppers.

2. Effective checkout experience

Checkout might be the last step in a user’s journey in your online store, but it’s one of the most important. A poorly designed checkout experience can mean that someone ditches their purchase at the last minute — even if the rest of their experience with your website has been smooth and simple. From customizing your store’s checkout to providing clear shipping options, a straightforward checkout experience gives shoppers confidence in your brand.

3. Search bar

A functional search bar will help users easily find the product they’re looking for, or search general categories if they’re not quite sure what they want to purchase yet. If you’ve optimized your website for search engines, a search bar can be especially useful for people who come to your website through organic search. They’re likely looking for a specific kind of product or service, and if a search engine didn’t already direct them to it, your website’s navigation should help them quickly find what they need now that they’ve arrived at your store.

4. Store pages and product pages

Since ecommerce customers don’t have the option to interact with your products in-person, providing context and information about each item you sell is key. A store page allows shoppers to see and scroll through multiple product images at once. When they click on an item on your store page, customers should be sent to a product details page (PDP). A PDP includes multiple images of a product, and shares everything from sizing and price, to color options, material, and more. With Squarespace Commerce, you can customize the layout of your PDP to best match your online store’s brand and mission.

With the right product photography on your PDPs and a store page layout that displays your offerings, customers can quickly familiarize themselves with your brand and find something to purchase.

Looking for more ways to increase sales? Learn how to write effective product descriptions that optimize your website for conversion.

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