Navigation Guidelines is report on an e-commerce study at Baymard Institute which researches the best ways to improve the online user experience. This was an eight month large-scale usability research study on the product-finding experience—a multi-syllabic way of saying how people do or do not find things they are looking for on the web and how they feel about it. The study tested multi-million dollar websites by the best designers. Amazon, Best Buy, Blue Nile, Chemist Direct, Drugstore.com, eBags, GILT, GoOutdoors, H&M, IKEA, Macy’s, Newegg, Pixmania, Pottery Barn, REI, Tesco, Toys’R’Us, The Entertainer, and Zappos. They found more than 900 usability problems.
While most of these guidelines apply to retail shopping sites, the principles can be applied to any site.
1. Don’t Make Parent Categories Shallow. (Also, Have Parent Categories.)
Use parent categories and child categories. Both should be clickable, not just a list of items. Users expect items in a menu to be clickable and they like to explore.
2. Put the Same Subcategory Within Multiple Main Categories When Necessary.
When a subcategory could logically appear in multiple parent categories but appears only in one, users believe it isn’t there when they don’t find it where they expect it to be.
3. Consider Having a “What’s New” Category or Filter.
Some users want to see what’s new — to be inspired or buying a gift — without having to plow through known products.
4. Suggest Both Alternative and Supplementary Products on Product Pages.
Alternatives, substitutes, add-ons and accessories to the product that the user is currently viewing are often hard to find.
5. List “Recently Viewed Items.”
Returning to a a previously visited product becomes needlessly complex using only the browser’s “Back” button or has to re-navigate the categories or reuse search.
6. Create Dedicated Pages that List Compatible Products.
Users have a difficult time finding compatible products and verifying their compatibility when the website doesn’t explicitly state their compatibility or link to the corresponding products. In other words put matching stuff together with matching stuff.
7. Always Link Contextual Images Directly to the Products Shown.
Users quickly grow frustrated when they spot a product in a front page display image but can’t navigate to it.
GoOutdoThe full article can be found here: Navigation Guidelines for Better Navigation and Categories