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Homepage & Category Usability

Exploring the customer’s product finding experience

An original research study by Baymard Institute

After months of user testing and research, the most in-depth usability study on how to best design and structure your e-commerce homepage and category navigation is ready.

Full access to the Homepage & Category Usability study includes both a 348-page report with 79 actionable guidelines, and a benchmark database with more than 3,800+ UX performance scores and 1,800+ implementation examples.

Combined this is a powerful research-based and pragmatic toolset that will help you get the best possible homepage and category navigation experience and conversion rate.

“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 Research Driven 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.

366 images from the test sessions for details insights on usability issues and solutions.

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

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

“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 7 pages
  2. Guideline categories:
    1. Homepage 38 pages 13 guidelines on homepage structure, design, carousels, personalization and promotions
    2. Category Taxonomy 41 pages 13 guidelines on e-commerce category structure, information architecture, catalog breadth, and category naming
    3. Main Navigation 48 pages 16 guidelines on e-commerce navigation design, mega drop-down menus, visual hierarchy, and courtesy navigation
    4. Sub-Category Pages 35 pages 7 guidelines on inspirational paths, featured products, and curated content
    5. Product Lists 75 pages 13 guidelines on grid and list view, pagination, items per page, sorting design and filtering features
    6. Site-Wide Layout 27 pages 10 guidelines on newsletter dialogs, ad positioning, footer, and return policy links
    7. Cross-Navigation & -Selling 16 pages 7 guidelines on scope jumping, breadcrumbs, cross- and up-selling, and content sections
    8. Case Studies 12 reviews Including Walmart, Nordstrom, HP, Staples, Macy’s, Amazon, Gap, and Sears
  3. Checklist for all 79 guidelines 5 pages
  4. Methodology, Authors, etc. 5 pages

“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 Homepage & Category Navigation Better than Macy’s, Home Depot’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 e-commerce sites in the US. This provides you with a comprehensive benchmark database with 240 pages reviewed, 790 screenshots, and 1,800+ examples of the 79 usability guidelines.

The benchmark database is fully integrated with the report and comes bundled as part of the purchase, providing you with 50 case studies from the top e-commerce sites, acting as examples and inspiration on how to implement each of the 79 guidelines in the report.

Furthermore the benchmark database provides a tool for you to review your own site (or your client’s) and compare it directly against the top 50 e-commerce sites.


What You’ll Get in the Homepage & Category Benchmark

Full unrestricted access to the benchmark database with 50 homepage & category usability case studies of top grossing e-commerce sites.

240 page 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 to the competition.

3,800 UX performance scores providing a detailed breakdown of homepage & category strengths, weaknesses, and common mistakes.

1,800+ best- and worst practice examples, illustrating how to implement the 79 homepage & category usability guidelines.

“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 348 pages 2,140 pages
Guidelines: - 79 guidelines 874 guidelines
Source: Author’s thoughts User testing User testing
Benchmark: No Yes, 50 sites reviewed No
Review tool: No Yes, interactive review tool No
Price: $695 $150 $996
Refund: No Yes, 14 days full refund No

“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
  • Authors: Jamie Appleseed, Christian Holst
  • ISBN: 978-87-994365-3-8
  • Published: October 2013
  • Delivery: Instant PDF-download (DRM-free), 105mb
  • Content: 348 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 50 benchmarked sites
  • Site reviews: Case studies of the top 50 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.

Authors

Research is conducted and published by Baymard Institute, and written by its two founders:

  • Christian Holst – User experience engineer with a master's degree from the Technical University of Denmark. He has worked with designing user experiences in both the hearing aid and the credit card industry before co-founding Baymard Institute 2009.
  • Jamie Appleseed – Has a decade's worth of work experience designing and coding websites, with a focus on user experience. He has worked as lead developer on numerous web projects at web agency Spoiled Milk before co-founding Baymard Institute in 2009.

Baymard Institute’s research is used by:

“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.

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

“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.

“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.

“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.

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

“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.

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

“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”

“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”

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

“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.

@SAP_Retail

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

“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”

“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.

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

“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.

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

“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.

“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!

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

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

“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.

“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”

“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”

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

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

“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.

“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.

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

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

“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”

See all 39 testimonials

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