8 Poor Navigation Techniques That Can Kill Your Ecommerce Site

8 Poor Navigation Techniques That Can Kill Your Ecommerce Site


Site navigation is an essential element for great product discovery and an easy browsing experience. A simple navigation structure can significantly enhance a visitor’s on site  experience.

Getting navigation right though, is a tough challenge. In this post, I’ve highlighted some examples of poor navigational practices and analysed why these particular elements don’t work. These navigation practices should be avoided or improved upon in order to get your site’s navigation right and ensure maximum customer satisfaction on your site.

1. Menu Structure

 Etsy, a popular ecommerce website, has a horizontal menu structure but lacks a drop-down menu – something that makes it easier for visitors to navigate to sub-categories quickly and effortlessly.

While the categories mentioned in the menu effectively point towards the most popular products, it would provide for a better user experience if each category also contained a drop-down to popular sub-categories within them. 8 Poor Navigation Techniques That Can Kill Your Ecommerce Site

Drop-down menus are crucial to the user experience as they:

1. Help visitors find the desired product in less number of clicks

2. Convert browsers into buyers by leading them to popular categories from the homepage itself

2. Faceted navigation

Faceted navigation is another essential element on an ecommerce site. With faceted navigation, visitors can narrow down to the right products, faster.

99Labels, an Indian online-based deals and discounts store, does not offer facets and filters to help customers refine results. The only way visitors can navigate through their category pages is by sorting based on size, availability and price. 8 Poor Navigation Techniques That Can Kill Your Ecommerce Site

In this case, having facets and filters highlighting important parameters like size, price, brand and colour can greatly enhance the browsing experience. The primary benefits of doing this include

1. Quick product discovery

2. Minimum number of steps for the customers to get to the right product

3. Enabling shoppers to navigate with their choice of priority (size, price, color etc.)

3. UI/UX

Hard graft, niche ecommerce site, has a critical flaw in it’s navigation. On their homepage, there is a lone collection tab (on the left corner) which drops down to a category list. On clicking on a category tab, further options drop down to help a user navigate to sub-categories. However, when more than 2 or 3 categories are clicked on, the list of options disappears below the fold and it becomes impossible to navigate to the categories below without collapsing any of the category tabs above.

 Navigation on their homepage could instead be better achieved through a horizontal menu structure or a vertical drop-down menu structure as seen on Amazon. 4. List and Grid View A list view and grid view decide the way your product range will be displayed on a particular category page. Both list view and grid view have their own advantages and need to be used based on the products that need to be displayed. For instance, a grid view makes more sense for products where the image is adequate for a visitor to click through i.e. for apparels, accessories, footwear etc. A grid view is particularly useful for categories that are more navigation centric i.e. where visitors tend to browse more and don’t have concrete idea of what they’re looking for. A list view is essential where large amounts of information is necessary to induce a click. Cameras for example, is a category where visitors tend to look for technical specifications before clicking through and converting.

Not using the right view for right type of products is a critical navigational flaw. Jabong is an Indian ecommerce lifestyle online store, lacks the option to customise the list and grid view.

8 Poor Navigation Techniques That Can Kill Your Ecommerce Site

5. Sort

Gap Inc, an popular American multinational retailer, lacks sorting options on their category pages. Having the ability to sort by important parameters like price, discounts, availability and popularity puts the visitor in control of their view and helps them make a buy decision faster. 8 Poor Navigation Techniques That Can Kill Your Ecommerce Site

6. Landing Page

Ecommerce landing pages or curated pages are a great way to showcase a specific set of products to your visitors and prompt them to make the purchase. A landing page should showcase a curated list of products based on discounts, trends, seasons, brands etc.

Although Dillard’s offers discounts on some of it’s products, it misses out on a huge opportunity to attract customers that look for discounts. Wondering how? Visitors landing on the homepage are unaware of any offers and discounts 8 Poor Navigation Techniques That Can Kill Your Ecommerce Site

One of the ways Dillard’s can modify it’s navigation menu is by putting an offer’s tab and creating a landing page just for deals and discounts. This is highly useful because –

1. Visitors can browse through all the discounted products at one place.

2. Higher conversion rates as visitors are more likely to convert on pages with tailored results.

7. Mobile Responsive

Today mobile phones have become a way of life for many of us and have changed the way we shop. Online retailers must capture this opportunity to increase their sales.

A recent report on one of the largest Indian online retailers and marketplaces, Snapdeal, mentions:

“45% of the transactions from mobile were made via the (Snapdeal) app, while the remaining 55% were made from the mobile site. The company also revealed that 20% of all app users open it every day.”

– Medianama

On the other hand, Infibeam – another Indian online retailer, is leaving money on the table by not providing a mobile responsive site which makes it easier for mobile users to navigate on their site.

 8 Poor Navigation Techniques That Can Kill Your Ecommerce Site

8. Personalisation

Personalisation is another necessary element to improve conversions, albeit a relatively new and unexplored tactic.

Personalisation helps capture the interest of the customer (new or repeat) and yield highly tailored search results specific to the customer’s interest.

For instance, if there is a new customer on the site and he uses navigation to search for running shoes, personalized navigation will track  important metrics like location, site behaviour, past purchases  and show him those brands, categories or price ranges that he is most likely to purchase.

Here are the plus points of implementing personalisation on your store-

1. Increases customer engagement.

2. Increase return visitors to your site and hence increases conversions and revenue.

3. Makes a customer’s shopping experience more personal and individualistic.


Keeping in mind these couple of elements when developing a navigation for your site will make a huge impact deep down for the brand and not just the website.

I’d love to hear if you’ve come across any other type of navigational flaw, do share it with me in the comments below!


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