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Homepage & Category Usability

Exploring the customer’s product finding experience

Version 2.0 just released - February 2017

This study on e-commerce homepage and category navigation is the culmination of 2 years worth of usability testing and research, distilled into 79 usability guidelines.

Full access to the Homepage & Category Usability study includes:

  1. Usability Report – 79 actionable guidelines detailed in 399 pages based on years of e-commerce navigational research.
  2. Benchmark Database – 100 case studies, more than 7,900 UX performance scores, and 4,700 categorized best practice implementation examples.

This research-based and pragmatic toolset will help you achieve the best possible homepage and category navigation experience and conversion rate.

Sears Logo

“Baymard produces some of the most relevant and actionable user experience research available. They really understand the needs of UX and Product Management professionals, and their deep experience in the eCommerce field allows them to offer sophisticated, nuanced insights.

Report: 79 Guidelines for Homepage & Category Navigation Perfection

Product finding is key to any e-commerce business – after all, if users can’t find it, they can’t buy it.

This original usability study focuses on how users navigate, find and select products on e-commerce sites. A group of users age 21-56 were recruited to test 19 of the leading e-commerce websites across 8 different verticals (mass merchants, apparel, electronics, jewelry, home decoration, toys & gifts, specialty equipment, and health & drugs). The tested pages and design elements include the homepage, category navigation, site taxonomy, category pages, and cross-navigation.

Throughout the test sessions, the subjects would repeatedly abandon sites because they were unable to find the products they were looking for. Indeed, the subjects encountered 900+ usability-related issues, and this is despite testing multi-million-dollar sites. All of these usability issues have been distilled into 79 concise usability guidelines that will help you design a user-friendly homepage and category structure so your customers can find the products they’re looking for.


What you’ll get in the Homepage & Category report

79 research-based design guidelines divided into 7 categories.

80 user quotes illustrating how users think when using the homepage and category navigation.

950+ screenshots showing concrete design and usability issues – and solutions to them.

13 case studies of production sites illustrating what works and what doesn’t.

399 print-optimized pages exploring the customer’s product finding experience.

Belk Logo

“I can not tell you how much help your benchmark studies have been for our company, e-commerce and UX teams. We have used and continue to use these reports for baseline benchmarks as we build test protocols or eye tracking scripts etc in lab.

Slide through the report


Table of contents

  1. Introduction 8 pages
  2. Benchmark Analysis 8 pages
  3. Guideline categories:
    1. Homepage 55 pages 13 guidelines on homepage structure, design, carousels, personalization and promotions
    2. Category Taxonomy 63 pages 13 guidelines on e-commerce category structure, information architecture, catalog breadth, and category naming
    3. Main Navigation 60 pages 16 guidelines on e-commerce navigation design, mega drop-down menus, visual hierarchy, and courtesy navigation
    4. Intermediary Category Pages 41 pages 7 guidelines on inspirational paths, featured products, and curated content
    5. Product Lists 90 pages 13 guidelines on grid and list view, pagination, items per page, sorting design and filtering features
    6. Site-Wide Layout 37 pages 10 guidelines on newsletter dialogs, ad positioning, footer, and return policy links
    7. Cross-Navigation & -Selling 26 pages 7 guidelines on scope jumping, breadcrumbs, cross- and up-selling, and content sections
    8. Case Studies 13 reviews Including Wayfair, L.L. Bean, Victoria’s Secret, Williams-Sonoma, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Office Depot, Sephora, etc
  4. Checklist for all 79 guidelines 5 pages
  5. Methodology, Authors, etc. 5 pages

Room & Board Logo

“The Baymard reports have proven to be an invaluable resource for us. Comprehensive, pragmatic and actionable. We have redesigned our checkout process and made changes to our category pages based on usability guidelines in the reports.

Benchmark: Is Your Navigation Experience Better than Macy’s or Etsy’s?

Based on the findings from the research study we’ve benchmarked the homepage, main nav. menu, site taxonomy, and category page implementation of 50 top grossing US e-commerce sites, across multiple years. This provides you with a comprehensive benchmark database with 550 manually reviewed pages, more than 1,600 screenshots, and 4,500+ categorized implementation examples of the 79 usability guidelines presented in the report.

When you purchase the homepage and category usability study you get full access to this benchmark database.

Furthermore the benchmark database include tools that allow you to review your own site (or your client’s) and see how it stacks up against the competition.


What You’ll Get in the Homepage & Category Benchmark

Full unrestricted access to the benchmark database with 100 homepage & category usability case studies of top grossing e-commerce sites.

‘2013 vs Current’ benchmark comparison enabling you to inspect changes to site design and UX performance over time.

550 annotated page designs designs for systematic design inspiration on a particular page type (Homepage, Main Navigation, etc).

An interactive review tool to rate your own homepage & category navigation performance and see how it stacks up against the competition.

7,900 UX performance scores providing a detailed breakdown of homepage & category strengths, weaknesses, and common mistakes.

4,500+ best- and worst-practice examples, illustrating how to implement the 79 homepage & category usability guidelines.

Lenovo Logo

“Excellent tool – looking forward to using it with our other sites and prototypes as they’re developed.

Compared to other industry reports

eConsultancy E-Commerce Best Practice Baymard Institute E-Commerce Homepage & Category Usability Nielsen Norman Group E-Commerce User Experience
Pages: 99 pages 399 pages 2,140 pages
Guidelines: - 79 guidelines 874 guidelines
Source: Author’s thoughts User testing User testing
Benchmark: No Yes, 100 sites reviewed No
Review tool: No Yes, interactive review tool No
Price: $695 $150 $996
Refund: No Yes, 14 days full refund No

Hallmark Logo

“These reports are fabulous. The content is exactly what our team has been looking for, and so much more! Extremely helpful, thank you!

Get your report and benchmark now

Get instant access to the usability report and benchmark database for $150, and start improving your homepage and category design today at just $1.9 per actionable guideline.

Refund policy: We stand by our research and offer you a full 14 days “no questions asked” refund. If you’re not satisfied, simply e-mail us at christian@baymard.com for a full refund.

Report details

  • Title: E-Commerce Homepage & Category Usability
  • ISBN: 978-87-994365-8-3
  • Published: February 2017
  • Delivery: Instant PDF-download (DRM-free), 117mb
  • Content: 399 pages, 79 guidelines

Benchmark details

The benchmark database has four components:

  • Review: Interactive checklist for reviewing your own sites
  • Guidelines: 79 usability guidelines with examples from the 100 benchmarked sites
  • Site reviews: Case studies of the top 100 grossing e-commerce sites
  • Page types: Navigate the homepage and category designs by type of page

Report license

The report and Baymard Pro account are intended for internal use - for you and your team.

You and your team are allowed to both print and digitally distribute the report to employees within your own organization (i.e. within the same legal entity), as long as it is not accessible to anyone outside it.

We trust our customers, so all reports we sell are unrestricted – this means that no DRM or other restrictive technologies are used.


Baymard Institute’s research is used by:

Nike Inc. Logo

“Intelligent, consumer-focused insights that are clear and actionable. The team in the room really loved the way the Baymard Institute highlighted the optimizations in the various user experience elements (copy, layout, design, calls-to-action…), from the perspective of consumer struggles. Baymard’s Usability research really compliments our other existing research tools.

Office Depot Logo

“Baymard have been a great resource in helping us improve the customer experience. We are continually applying these best practices to our sites.

Etsy Logo

“Thank you. This was an excellent piece of work: professional, thorough, and actionable for the team. We're very happy with the work Baymard has done for us so far, and I hope we'll have the chance to work together again on future projects.

Sports Authority Logo

“Thank you for all the value delivered ahead of our new fiscal years. Your insights not only provided a definitive foundation for our UX roadmap but completely sold our executive team on the value of expert usability insights. Your service paid for itself in a matter of days and ensured all critical gaps will be filled ahead of us running the audit again next year.

ClickBank Logo

“It is immensely valuable having a thorough, independent study to help validate my work and in particular, help facilitate buy-off from stakeholders. Baymard has quickly become one of my most trusted resources for the UX/UI field.

Kohl’s Logo

“I really like the work Baymard Institute does around usability. Their articles often get my Ecom gears turning.

Author of 'Don't Make Me Think' Logo

“Damn. The reports that the @Baymard folks do cost money, but they're worth it.

Smashing Magazine Logo

“This is very, very useful! Let me check what we can do to improve the usability in the Smashing Shop.

Sears Logo

“Baymard produces some of the most relevant and actionable user experience research available. They really understand the needs of UX and Product Management professionals, and their deep experience in the eCommerce field allows them to offer sophisticated, nuanced insights.

Belk Logo

“I can not tell you how much help your benchmark studies have been for our company, e-commerce and UX teams. We have used and continue to use these reports for baseline benchmarks as we build test protocols or eye tracking scripts etc in lab.

Hallmark Logo

“These reports are fabulous. The content is exactly what our team has been looking for, and so much more! Extremely helpful, thank you!

B&H Photo & Electronics Corp. Logo

“I can confirm that the list was fully implemented. Every time we put up a change we either A/B test or we watch it very closely to determine that it's doing better and not the opposite. So I can confirm that these fixes have improved our checkout. Thanks for everything.

Lenovo Logo

“Excellent tool – looking forward to using it with our other sites and prototypes as they’re developed.

Elastic Path Logo

“Baymard’s real-user research is invaluable for ecommerce marketers. It leaves no stone unturned, and with the guideline checklists provided, you’ll be well equipped to optimize your mobile presence.

“We recommend it, especially if you plan on re-developing your website – and you want to make sure your web company is doing something near best practice.

Jarden Consumer Solutions Logo

“Thanks for everything. The audit was extremely useful, I think we have gained valuable insight.

Overstock Inc. Logo

“Thanks again for the great work on our checkout project. Our whole group found it incredibly insightful. We’re applying the suggestions you provided to our new checkout design which launches at the end of the month! One of my colleagues was also interested in your group’s competitive expertise with regard to responsive web and native apps.

@paulirvine

“New e-commerce usability report c/o @Baymard helps us help our customers find the products they are looking for: http://t.co/6dRtNcUeuG

T-Mobile / Deutsche Telekom AG Logo

“Thank you very much for the 7 usability audits of our country-specific sites. The audits have provided us with specific and actionable advice, allowed us to prioritize development resources , and enabled us to compare UX performance between the 7 different country-specific sites, and against State of the Art implementations. The audit itself is done really professionally and the recommendations contain actionable and insightful information.

@experience_ux

“All you need to know about navigation & categories for a successful e-commerce website http://t.co/EqdqtTltWm Via @Baymard

Keurig Green Mountain Logo

“I have found the M-Commerce and E-Commerce reports very useful, thank you!

@SAP_Retail

“Does your #ecommerce site suffer from the usability problems Baymard Institute's study uncovered? http://t.co/QTx4U5NrWl RT @boxuk

John Lewis Logo

“Many thanks for presenting earlier. I have caught up with the teams and they all found your audit report really useful and are on board with the suggestions.

@davidpetersimon

“Quite excited to read this report covering e-commerce taxonomy: http://t.co/jCgZyAmt5H ht @benkappler #ia

Epicenter Consulting Logo

“Given the tricky science of conversion rate optimization, it is great to know that you are dealing with professionals whose advice is based on solid research. It was a pleasure collaborating with the Baymard team.

IATV Logo

“A great report with many important findings and insights. A must-read for every web design professional.

RepairClinic.com Logo

“Within a very short time Baymard Institute provided 15 clear, useful improvement suggestions for our checkout process. We intend to implement all of them. It’s easy to find companies that offer website improvement suggestions. But, most companies don’t do their homework and don’t provide specific examples of how best to make the improvements. With Baymard Institute, the checkout process suggestions they made were intuitive, specific, and actionable. I highly recommend their audit service.

StickerMule.com Logo

“Wow, this is great! Just reviewed it with the team. It's a huge help and we're excited to fix these issues.

Hallmark Cards, Inc. Logo

“The walkthrough today was great. The report was very, very well done and loaded with great opportunities for us to improve our business. I wanted to again express my appreciation for working with us on such a condensed time frame last month. You and your team have been amazing partners to us and we very much appreciate the work, expertise and partnership.

S3 Stores Logo

“We implemented “E-Commerce Checkout Usability” guide for all our stores and saw doubling of checkout conversion rates. We will soon work on implementation of other usability guidelines. Thank you Christian and Jamie for your excellent work!

Carnival Cruise Lines Logo

“We like what we are reviewing from the audit - great analysis and feedback.

n11.com Logo

“We have worked with a number of third party companies before on various projects/audits, and I can certainly say that working with Baymard was not only a pleasure; but you delivered on time; to the level of depth we wanted; addressing important issues; and answering all our questions; and you did all this for a great price. A big THANK YOU on behalf of N11.

Harley-Davidson Logo

“We found the audits extremely helpful and validated a number of changes we have been wanting to make or are in the process of making, so thank again for all the great insights.

@ecomchat

“Big recommendation from @waligorski: I REALLY recommend the BI report. http://t.co/xw6LXkm5iP - best 150$ spent. (cc @baymard) #ecomchat

EasyAsk Logo

“I have purchased the e-commerce search usability report and it's great. We use it as a benchmark for search best practices.

@digital_darts

“The Baymard Institute have some seriously good reports on ecommerce usability, design, and best practices: http://t.co/cuxO3VwiVe

IATV Logo

“Worth every dollar. It’s well done, good looking and simply very useful.

iProspect Logo

“I love the information that you guys provide and have bought a couple of reports. Love them.

Room & Board Logo

“The Baymard reports have proven to be an invaluable resource for us. Comprehensive, pragmatic and actionable. We have redesigned our checkout process and made changes to our category pages based on usability guidelines in the reports.

@geordieallen

“A recent study sheds insights into best practices for eComs: http://t.co/bKaCw0nEQl #Design #Websites http://t.co/KHUzhUKuVg

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