Organizing your e-commerce website, also known as taxonomy, is more important than you might think and easier than you might fear. Generally, that means starting from the ground up when building your e-commerce site.

Even if you have a great structure on the backend for SEO, you also need to take care of business on the front-end, where your customers are. Before going into more detail about how to effectively organize your e-commerce website, you should find out more about why you should even bother.

Key Takeaways

  • Organizing an e-commerce site is critical in generating sales for an online business
  • About half of all visitors to a site leave if they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily
  • Well-organized e-commerce sites make 50% more sales than disorganized sites
  • E-commerce taxonomy is the layout and classification of products and services on an e-commerce website
  • Site owners learn the most important steps to implement an effective e-commerce taxonomy

Why Is It Important To Organize Your E-Commerce Website?

You don’t need a professional designer to build a fantastic-looking website for your business. The best e-commerce website builders make it almost ridiculously easy without any need for coding skills. Zyro, for example, has a drag-and-drop online store builder that even comes with a free domain for as little as $4.41 a month.

Zyro's features
Source: Zyro

But it isn’t enough to have a great-looking website to get sales. When you get people to your site, you must make it easy for customers to travel down the sales funnel. You can do that by using e-commerce taxonomy.

What Is E-Commerce Taxonomy?

Startuptalky.com
Source: Startuptalky.com

While it might sound fancy, e-commerce taxonomy refers to how you organize and classify website products and services on a site, so it’s easy for customers and search engines to find them. For example, if you sell footwear on your site, the taxonomies or categories would include women’s, men’s, and kids, and subcategories, such as dress, flats, wedges, loafers, and so on.

E-commerce taxonomy has two types: flat and hierarchical. In flat taxonomy, each category is of equal weight. This is typical in a website with only a few offerings, often laid out in the main navigation. In hierarchical taxonomy, you break down the main categories into subcategories. This is typical of e-commerce stores with many products, and they use a top or side navigation bar to organize them.

So, when organizing your website, you should have categories, subcategories, and facets. Facets, also known as attributes, are properties of a product or service that would allow a site visitor to refine a search to find an exact match. These would be characteristics, such as price range, color, and size. In a flat taxonomy with just one or two items, facets may be the only type of filter you need.

What Are the Benefits of a Well-organized Site?

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Source: Webeminence.com
  • Helps you fine-tune recommendations
  • Give site visitors more control
  • Makes it easy for customer to buy

Implementing taxonomies to organize your site benefits you in many ways. Statistics show that poorly organized sites generate 50% fewer sales than better-organized ones and 47% of site visitors leave if they don’t find what they want on the first try. Here are specific reasons you need to keep your site’s taxonomy top of mind.

Helps You Fine-tune Recommendations

One thing most people like about Netflix is its sophisticated recommendation engine. It seems to read your mind when you’re looking for something to watch. While you might not have the benefit of artificial intelligence (AI) working in the background for your website, facets do the next best thing.

Facets or attributes attached to each product and service help your site mimic that personalization when a customer types in anything in the search box. Using facets that reflect the searcher’s intent also enables you to create relevant recommendations when a visitor visits a specific page.

Gives Site Visitors More Control

A well-organized site gives potential customers more control over what they see in a search. Sometimes, visitors window shop through an e-commerce site looking for something to catch their eyes.

If they use the search option and find the results intuitive and satisfying, they’re more likely to stay on the site longer. If your site users have a hard time navigating your site or don’t see anything of interest during a quick search, they’re more likely to leave, increasing your bounce rate, which isn’t good from an SEO perspective as well.

Makes It Easy for Customers To Buy

Like search engines, your site’s purpose is to help people find something. Most people go to a website to look for a specific item. If they can find it within one or two clicks, they’re most likely to Add to Cart or Subscribe.

However, if they must go through multiple pages of products they don’t want, frustration mounts quickly and so does your bounce rate. The quickest way to move them down the sales funnel is to make the experience as seamless as possible.

Tips for Organizing Your E-Commerce Website

You can keep the following in mind to do it effectively:

  • Research: Find out how successful e-commerce sites look to give you an idea of what you should do
  • Have a high-level site plan: Decide on the pages to include and how to arrange them
  • Decide on navigation: Choose what type of navigation works best with your market
  • Be mindful of your header and footer: Make it easy for visitors to go anywhere on your site on any device they use
  • Have search choices: Give visitors easy options for finding products or pages
  • Create a great homepage: Anticipate the questions of first-time visitors and put answers on the homepage
  • Create product pages that convert: Keep them simple and familiar to make it easy for visitors to buy
  • Give information: Provide visitors with standard pages about your company, contact information, and policies

If you don’t yet have an e-commerce site, you should choose an e-commerce platform that provides setup support to make the process a little easier. Shopify, for instance, provides that type of support, including a ton of free tools.

Shopify free tools
Source: Shopify

In any case, the following tips can help you organize your current or future site.

Do Research

You need inspiration if you’re implementing taxonomy for the first time. The easiest way is to find an e-commerce website―not necessarily a competitor―that you find easy to use. Take note of how they organize their navigation bars and categories to understand what you should be doing.

Have a High-level Site Plan

Having a nice-looking website is essential, but the color, fonts, and images on your e-commerce site are secondary to the site plan in web design. You should have a high-level site plan that sketches the types of pages to include and their layout. To come up with a working site plan, ask the following questions:

  • What are the priorities of most customers?
  • What products or services do they want to see?
  • What should be front and center on each page?
  • How do they find the product or service they want?
  • What is the pathway to each product?
  • What are the navigation options for customers that get lost?

The probable answers help you sketch out the navigation menu you should use to arrange your categories and subcategories. They also help you determine the size of your images and what your header and footer, which are always present, should include.

Decide on Navigation

The navigation types you choose to include are critical for your site’s ease of use. Most websites have a top navigation bar, although some prefer sidebars. Still, others choose to have both top and side menus. What you choose depends on the number and variety of products or services you offer.

To get a clear picture of what you put in your navigation bar, create a spreadsheet and put in all your products or services according to the category, subcategory and, if necessary, sub-subcategories. Use drop-down menus to drill down these sub-subcategories for people looking for specific products or services.

Keep in mind that most people start with a category, so customers should instantly recognize and find the relevant categories for their search. Also, keep in mind that your navigation should accommodate people with disabilities. Check out our article on making a website more accessible to everyone.

Be Mindful of Your Header and Footer

The header and footer are omnipresent on all site pages and help people find their way back to the homepage. A well-designed header and footer should send people to the right pages whether they’re using a desktop or mobile phone. Use tags to help shoppers find the products they want in as few clicks as possible.

Some pages have an endless scroll feature, which means they never get to the footer. If that’s the case, make sure that the information generally in the footer, such as contact information, social media links, or privacy policy, is in the header.

Typically, customers should find the following in your header:

  • Company name and logo
  • Categories with drop-down menus
  • Shopping cart icon
  • Login icon
  • Search bar

The footer doesn’t contain categories. Instead, it contains direct links to pages that typically provide information to the customer. These include:

  • Company contact information
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  • Return policies
  • Terms of use
  • Privacy policy
  • Social media links
  • Subscribe links

Have Search Choices

You should always provide a solution for lost customers to find their way. Most people know that websites place a link to the homepage on the company logo, so you should make sure you do too. You can also allow users to backtrack using breadcrumbs or by simply using the search bar, which should be omnipresent.

Create a Great Home Page

After mapping out your site’s key elements, it’s time to focus on the details for each page. The homepage is the priority. It needs to pop, not only in terms of design but to sell the idea that your e-commerce store is the best one for your customers. It should tell them who you are, what you do, what you offer, and why they should buy from you.

Think about what’s unique about your e-commerce store and how it can benefit your customers. Put that unique value proposition (UVP) on the homepage. The statement should be as short as possible. A good example is that of Digital.com: “Digital.com publishes real reviews to help you find the best tools for your small business.”

For e-commerce sites, you might want to include the general price point on your home page if it puts you at an advantage. For example, if you offer a lowest-price guarantee, make sure it’s prominent on your homepage. Alternatively, you could feature top products that show lower prices than your closest competitors.

Aside from your text and UVP, make sure you use only high-quality images for instant credibility. Poorly composed or low-resolution product images are a red flag for many customers.

Include glowing customer testimonials and reviews or logos of companies you work with as social proof. Finally, include a clear and compelling call-to-action (CTA) that leads your customers to the general product pages or a specific product you’re currently promoting.

Create Product Pages that Converts

Drill down to individual product pages and make sure you have a compelling title, brief description, price, and high-res images from multiple angles. If you are selling a service, include screenshots and descriptions of its top features. The product pages should also include sizing and color options (if applicable) and a CTA such as “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart.”

Include customer reviews and testimonials to help customers decide if it is a good buy. Put social media sharing buttons to make it easy to forward to others. Finally, provide related or complementary products with thumbnails to encourage them to buy more.

Give Information

Aside from the homepage and product or service pages, you should include nontransactional pages that provide visitors with information about you and how you do business. These include the About Us, Pricing Page ― for subscription or service companies ― FAQs, and more. Check out the most critical pages a small business should have on its site for more information.

What Should You Do Next?

Waste no time organizing your e-commerce site to make it easier for customers to buy. Whatever else you have going with your online business, you should prioritize this.

Especially if you already have a live site that isn’t performing as well as it should despite using all the marketing tools at your disposal. The problem for your site’s poor performance is likely much closer to home.