A few weeks ago we discussed how a website that lacks credibility could cause you to lose sales. We hope you were able to implement some of those changes and see an increase in conversions. In this post, the changes we focus on will take more time and money, but the reward is bigger. We are focusing on your site’s functionality, another huge User Experience (UX) issue.

Don’t know if you have functionality issues? If navigating your site is like finding your way out of a medieval labyrinth, you qualify. Purchasing your product should be easy, not a headache. Increase your conversion rate with the changes outlined below.


Site Navigation

Make it easy to find your products. Most online shoppers are not looking to browse, so don’t build your site for browsing. If searching for a women’s sneaker is as frustrating as shopping in a clearance section during a Black Friday event, I will never return to your site. At the end of the day, most people can find your products or similar products anywhere else. Don’t give them a reason to look elsewhere.

Your products need to be organized. The navigation menu should be one of the first steps you take when designing your website. Having a well-structured navigation is paramount for both the user’s experience and also the search engine bots. For example, if you are selling jewelry, separate it by gender first. The gender category can have sub-categories to allow the user to browse for specific types of jewelry. This not only helps with the user’s experience, but also with SEO (search engine optimization) which is a huge win for your business.

ecommerce navigation tips

Sephora has a TON of products. They do a great job separating them into sub-categories, which makes it easy for the user find exactly what he/she is looking for.

The navigation should also live in the same place on every single page. Do not create a cat and mouse game to make your site look cool. When designing your site navigation, use the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid). This is no time for exploring creative ways to portray your products. Do not recreate the wheel, just stick with what works. There are times when function trumps design. This is one of those times.

Breadcrumbs are another way for your users to easily navigate your site. A breadcrumb is a type of secondary navigation structure that reveals the user’s location. You can usually find them beneath the main navigation bar and above the content. They help your potential customers understand the hierarchy of your website and act as a visual aid to show their current location. By implementing breadcrumbs, you can ensure your products are organized in a way that makes sense and allows the user to bounce easily from a sub-category to a main category.

ecommerce navigation tips

Sephora’s navigation is complete with the breadcrumbs in the left hand side.



While navigation is most important when it comes to UX, some users are less patient and want to search for an item specifically. If a person is looking for female shoes that are black with a 3-inch heel – they probably don’t want to click around your site. Don’t make them search for a needle in a haystack. Give them a way to search and filter your products to help narrow down browsing time.

Some sites saw an increase in conversions by 26% after implementing a filter option for their site. It may seem obvious to have a filter, but only 16% of websites provide a good filtering experience. There are so many options when it comes to filtering. You have to make sure you are choosing what works for your business. If you have an online store with only 4 different flavors of jam, you probably do not need an extensive filter. You can use a basic filter that offers results based on price, popularity, and ratings. If you have an online store with 24 different jams, 17 types of hummus, an assortment of breads, and enough wine to get the city of Rome inebriated, you need a better filter than the basic option.

ecommerce filter options

Example A shows a basic filter. Example B shows a more advanced filter.

There are category-specific filters which would allow a user to view only the black bean hummus flavors. Most experts state that any item in the product list description should be an option when filtering. These specifications are usually what matters most to a buyer and allows them to quickly find exactly what they are looking for.

Thematic filters are another important filter option that would make sense for a large product offering. When a user is searching for a specific item, there is usually a reason. Maybe they are having a dinner party and looking for specialty items. If it is a St. Patrick’s Day event, they could be searching for the perfect Irish Soda Bread. Having a theme, whether it is holiday-related, high-end options, or seasonal, makes for a more unique experience for your user. It replicates walking into a grocery store and asking an employee for help.

With all these filter options, you will want to make sure they do not complicate the look of your site. Many experts lean towards a truncated view of the filters in the sidebar. This allows a user to know what their options are for filtering and only focus on what they want, without scrolling for miles.


Product Reviews

After the user finds the specific products they are looking for, you want to help them make their decision to move through the sales cycle. With so many options these days, customers want to know if what they are buying is worth it.

Buying items online is always a bit nerve-wracking. Imagine it from a buyer’s perspective while walking through the shopping experience: What if the jam is gross or the wine is dryer than I like? Can I even return it? What if I spend all this money and the dinner party sucks because no one likes the food? It would be okay if they were drunk, but what if they don’t like the wine either? Planning a dinner party is stressful, maybe I will just tell everyone we are going to an Irish bar and call it a day. What could have been a big purchase turned into nothing because the user didn’t convert. They are now scared to buy the products and have changed their entire event plans. I’ve always said don’t let the user think! Make them buy before they know what they are doing.

Product reviews would have saved this customer and brought you some big bucks. Maybe they narrowed it down to the rhubarb-ginger and the black currant jam. Let’s say one reviewer raved that the black currant jam was the best jam they ever spread on Irish Soda Bread while the rhubarb-ginger tasted like the ginger that comes with sushi and was the grossest jam they’ve tasted. The buyer would feel pretty confident in making the decision to buy the black currant jam.

Product reviews are an important section to add to your site. 70% of people consult reviews and ratings before making a purchase and 63% of consumers are more likely to buy from a site with product reviews.  If your site doesn’t have reviews, then consumers will most likely spend the time to search for reviews. That means they are leaving your site. Never give a person a reason to leave your site before making a purchase.

Today’s online market is bigger and more diverse than ever before. You have to do whatever you can as a business owner to stand out. These items are no longer a nice to have, they are necessary to succeed in ecommerce. It has become the new standard to focus your website on the user’s experience. I know these website items are not an easy fix and in some circumstances, it means a whole new website. With the increase in revenue and return customers, it will be worth it. The same website that increased conversions by 26% saw a 76% increase in revenue by making one UX change. Implement these changes and increase your conversions today.

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