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The Wrong Way to Categorize Products

wrong way to categorize products

If you have any chance of creating effective product category pages, you have to start by making sure you have created the best categorization structure for your products. This means creating categories and sub-categories that help visitors narrow down their choices intuitively to find the product(s) that best fit their interest and needs.

But sometimes the best way to explain how to do things right, you have to understand what’s wrong with the other ways.

The image below comes from an apartment rental website, but the navigation implementation is pretty typical of websites.  Can you tell what the problem is?

Navigation Before
For starters, they have implemented something of a mega menu. Mega menus are designed to reduce the number of clicks needed to get from the current page the visitor is on to the category page that best matches their interest. But this solution is often worse than the problem!

Too many options in the navigation menu prevents the customer from being able to focus on what they want. It becomes information overload, creating decision paralysis.

Secondly, this menu doesn’t offer navigational categories that help the visitor drill down. Essentially, it takes the visitors directly to each product without any helpful tools to know which product is right for the searcher, unless you know exactly what is meant by Urban, Signature, and Suburban. Product classifications that are not self explanatory tend to not be very helpful.

The navigation menu does offer a few “filtering” options at the top that might be slightly more helpful, but not by much. If you search by location, you get a sub-menu, but again, this is only helpul to those who are already familiar with these classifications.

Navigation 2
Overall, the navigation gets visitors to the products, but it doesn’t help them select which products they want or need. That’s where a lot of navigations fail. Too much information, and the info provided isn’t clear.

Take a look at your navigation to see if it passes this test of what not to do. If it does, stay tuned and I’ll share the right way to categorize your products in a future post.

Image credit: CollegeDegrees360. Modified with permission

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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