Product Category Pages

3 Mar 2011 - 2:23pm
5 years ago
2 replies
1059 reads


I have been noticing a trend on many ecommerce sites recently away from providing category pages - that is, instead of providing top-level categories, a number of subcategories, some subsequent categories, and finally listing pages, sites are skipping some levels of category pages and going straight from top-level or subcategory pages to listing pages with hundreds of items.

Example: Men -> Shirts -> Polos (Listing 20 items) vs. Men -> Shirts (Listing 300 items)

What are people's thoughts about this?  I am a fan of providing subcategories as a means of enabling customers to winnow down to a meaningful number of items, but also providing a View All option to enable those who many not have decided whether they want a polo shirt versus a t-shirt a means to look at everything.




4 Mar 2011 - 3:55pm
Diana Wynne

I fully agree that one's not a substitute for the other. And from an interaction perspective, no one should have to navigate the levels of a site's deep hierarchy click by click. Do you remember when Amazon went from browsable to hopeless? 

I suspect what's happening is that many e-commerce sites are just using automated lists of search terms as tags, rather than having an IA or content editor structure the content (or the categories). 

In part this is okay because search has become primary navigation; most shoppers end up deep on a site, on the page for "black leather boots sale" rather than starting at the front door. Or they look at what's popular, or what's on sale, or what the site thinks you should want based on your browsing history.

But browsing is a very important part of shopping, and a very different experience ("I want to buy something fun for myself" versus "I need hiking boots now"), even if you start out with something specific to buy. Plus knowing where you are helps orient you to be able to find anything else on the site. 

7 Mar 2011 - 1:13pm

Good point - I think that Search is being conflated with Browsing and that people truly are looking for different things out of both experiences.  Search is great if you know exactly what you're looking for and what to call it (really the way the site calls it, all to often).  Browsing is great if you have no idea or a general idea of what you're looking for.  I'm wondering if there is any current research out there that covers the convergence between the two?

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