User experience, or UX, is a positive aspect of shopping most people take for granted until poorly integrated. At that point, everyone notices the look, feel, and usability. Usability refers to how well it functions and its predictability, which, in turn, integrates look and affects the feel. The look grants credibility and trust while the feel initiates a desire for interaction and a satisfied reaction. These matter because if a user’s experience is frustrating, their time and interaction with a site becomes bitter and short-lived. One of the first interactions a user will experience within a site is the navigation.

1. Clean and Intuitive, but Not Intrusive

Navigation presents an obnoxious experience for a user if they have to guess a product’s location. The longer they have to look for something, the less likely they will stay — thus, the less likely they will buy. Improved UX navigation should focus on providing intuitive categories with clean aesthetics and functionality.

2. Responsive Navigation

A large part of user experience is the ability to view content on multiple devices without a break in visuals or functionality. While it’s not necessary to use the hamburger menu, the three-lined icon, it is necessary to create navigation that’s responsive to screen sizes. For smaller screens, the navigation location needs an obvious nature without having to fight through glitches or unexpected scrolling. After all, bounce rates increase when users spend too much time trying to locate navigation.

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3. Intuitive Links

Intuition is a huge part of user experience, especially when it comes to navigation. Categorizing links and their respective sub-level links should show a logical process. Users, prospective consumers, want to know their visit to a site will be as quick as they prefer with as little hindrance as possible. The more logic that’s applied to links and their categories, the happier a user becomes.

4. Search Toggle

Even with the most streamlined e-commerce websites, space becomes limited. However, a user may not always be interested in searching through navigation links or may have something more specific in mind than links can offer. A search option provides users the opportunity to search based on specific criteria — all the better when the search option appears within the navigation. However, space matters. Setting the search option to appear as an icon that extends into a text box when selected allows for space, aesthetics, and functionality.

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5. Cues and Clues

Ideograms are excellent ways to convey, to the user, a link’s intent, which is why icons are prominent across the internet. However, humans are creatures of habit and quickly recognize some icons as standard while others will cause hesitation or confusion. For instance, using an icon of a dark hat with sunglasses and question marks reflected in the lenses is a poor choice for a search icon. First, a question mark typically affiliates with questions and commonly applies to FAQs or help pages. Second, users associate a dark hat and sunglasses with covert operations or Chrome’s privacy windows. Use icons and widely recognized standards to help your users understand what they’re viewing without a hassle or confusion.

6. Avoid Hover Content

Users aren’t always on home-based or laptop computers any longer. Mobile devices are no longer increasing in popularity, but are popular device choice. As a result, the mouse isn’t the only input device. Drop down navigation content and categories should consider this, implementing click and tap functionality. User experience will become rather frustrating quickly when they tap top-level navigation only to find they can’t access the sub-level links within the navigation. Users that can’t navigate won’t stay to buy.

7. Fixed Navigation

An e-commerce site often contains a long vertical, scroll for product pages. Fixed navigation, or navigation that sticks to a certain location on the page, provides a more obvious sight line. Fixed navigation should never block or obstruct content, but should maintain visibility throughout the scroll while leaving room for viewable content near the end of the page. This allows users constant access to the navigation without the effort of scrolling to the top of the page. It’s a minor effort, yes, but a highly appreciated gesture.

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8. Personalization

Always offer a navigation option for personalization. If a user visits, employ browser cookies to set home stores, zip code preferences, and other non-sensitive information. Once signed in, the user can personalize their experience further via their profile and settings, but visiting preferences are a winning aspect of user experience. After all, if they browse frequently they become more likely to buy when not interrupted with minimal details and they’re happier for the streamlined effect.

User Experience and Navigation

Have you considered the effect of your navigation on your consumer base? User experience within navigation often suffers oversights as an unimportant part of e-commerce. It doesn’t matter the content, subject, or direction of a site. Navigation is key, right beside layout and function. A site’s navigation is the doorway to all things within the site, without it there’s little to say, as the rest is inaccessible. Let us help you build the best user experience possible and contact us for optimized e-commerce success.

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