Fix Navigation to Improve Conversions, Part 2

Conversion rate not where it should be? Here’s what to do.

First, check out the six basic navigation types. Are any of these broken? Our research shows 20 to 25 percent of visitors use site search engines to navigate within a Web site. Some also use global navigation (think Amazon tabs) and local navigation (think supplemental category information, such as ClickZ’s column listings) in the same session. Embedded contextual navigation is typically the most effective for increasing conversions.

Let’s look at a few examples of broken navigation as related to how people sort and categorize information.

I’m a gadget freak. The other day, I decided I need one of those handheld “thingies” that automatically advance slides during a presentation. I’m sure you’ve seen them. They usually have a button to advance and reverse slides, often a laser pointer as well. I buy them once a year or so but am really not sure what they’re called.

I started my search on CDW.

On the home page, there’s a global tab called “Accessories.” Click. Nope, just batteries and storage cases. Next, I try “Hardware.” I’m presented with 23 categories. Is it under “Audio/Video”? “Multimedia”? “Projectors”? Nope. Ah, “Input Devices” (who would’ve guessed?). Now what? I try “Mice and Trackballs.” What do I click now? All I see are some featured products, but they’re not what I am looking for. Oh., I need to click on the link beneath “Mice and Trackballs.” That should’ve been obvious.

Under normal circumstances, I’d be long gone. For the sake of argument, let’s keep exploring this site. A search results page displays 1-25 of 387 products. I can sort by best match, group (what’s that?), brand, and price. Will any of these bring me closer? Does CDW even sell any of the “thingies” I want? It sure does. Can you find all the “thingies” it offers? Bet you can’t.

CDW’s grade: F.

Next is I already know it’s probably going to be in “Accessories.” CompUSA has some subcategories listed. Let’s try “Input Devices” again. I get 294 matching products! I need to refine my list.

I can sort by department, so I try “Mice, Trackballs, PC Remotes.” It would be easier if I knew what the “thingy” was called. But if I knew that, I wouldn’t have to search this way. Still, the breakdown looks more promising. I get 151 products but still not in the right product category.

I sort further by type of device. “Remote Control” perhaps? Now there are seven product choices, not all related to the “thingy” I was looking for. At least now I have some choices.

CompUSA grade: C-.

My last try is on I enjoy its product detail pages. Tabs show all the images it has of a given product. Again, I start at “Accessories.” Right away, I’m presented with a sub-category for “Presentation Accessories.” Now, I’m really excited. Within two clicks of the home page, I’m presented with three options, two related to my “thingy.”

TigerDirect grade: A.

This exercise shows how one persona might navigate a site. If you were me, which site would you buy from? Try this persona-based competitive analysis exercise on a regular basis. Spend time getting to know your personas so you can analyze how each one may navigate your site to meet their goals.

Next: The final two forms of navigation: hierarchical (or breadcrumb) and site maps.

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