Research Topic

Homepage & Category Navigation UX

How do users perceive your homepage and navigate your categories?

This study on e-commerce homepage and category navigation is the culmination of 2 years worth of usability testing and research, distilled into 61 usability guidelines.

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 61 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.

This page provides you an overview of Baymard’s research specific to Homepage & Category Navigation UX. All of this research is available as part of Baymard Premium.


The Current Homepage & Category Navigation UX Performance

To accompany the usability test sessions we’ve also benchmarked 60 top-grossing US and European e-commerce sites across the 61 Homepage & Category Navigation usability guidelines. This benchmark has been conducted four times: first in October 2013, then again in 2017, in 2018, and lastly late 2020. This has resulted in a benchmark database with 10,980 homepage and category navigation elements manually reviewed and scored by Baymard’s team of UX researchers, along with more than 5,875 categorized best and worst practice implementation examples from leading e-commerce sites (all categorized and performance verified).

Benchmark UX Performances
Poor
Mediocre
Decent
Good
Perfect

Homepage & Category

64 Guidelines

Homepage

15 Guidelines

Category Taxonomy

15 Guidelines

Main Navigation

16 Guidelines

Intermediary Category Pages

6 Guidelines

Site-Wide Layout

12 Guidelines

71 Major E-Commerce Sites
What’s This?

The 6,168 UX performance scores for 2020 for the benchmarked sites’s navigational is plotted in the interactive scatterplot above.

The Homepage & Category UX performance for the average top-grossing US and European site is “acceptable”, made up of 28% “decent”, 45% “acceptable, 24% “mediocre”. There are almost no sites that perform either exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly here, making for a much more narrow spread compared to other parts of the online shopping expereince. This also means that there are the fewest examples on either end of either massive performance issues, or “State of the Art” implementations.

In comparison, in most of the other e-commerce UX studies we’ve conducted at Baymard Institute the average UX performance only amounts to “mediocre”. For instance, in our Search UX, Product Details Page UX, and Mobile Web UX research themes the average site performance is significantly below acceptable. In other words, Homepage & Category navigation is the part of the user journey within e-commerce where the average site performs the best.

Even given the generally “acceptable” performance of sites, the benchmark dataset shows that there’s still room for improvements when looking within the specific topics of the user experience — in particularly the UX within Category Taxonomy, Main Navigation, and Intermediary Category Pages. The issues identified in these topics cause problems for many sites, and include some “missed opportunities” for the e-commerce industry as a whole. (All areas explored in-depth in our full research catalog.)

This is a sub-set of the full benchmark which includes 63 e-commerce sites.
View our full UX benchmark


672 Categorized ‘Homepage & Category Navigation’ Examples

FREE RESEARCH CONTENT

Explore annotated design patterns across 672 examples of Homepage & Category Navigation designs and features from leading e-commerce sites, organized into 4 different page types. This is a great way to get inspiration for your own Homepage & Category Navigation design, and to get a feel for emerging trends in e-commerce navigation.



6 Research Reports on Homepage & Category Navigation UX

PAID RESEARCH CONTENT

All 61 Homepage & Category Navigation UX research findings are available as part of Baymard Premium, and are divided into the following 5 topics (200+ pages of research findings in total):

7 × Homepage & Category Topics

Homepage & Category

Homepage

Homepage & Category

Homepage

17 Guidelines, 104 Pages

The primary objectives of a site’s homepage, the opportunities it can provide to both new and repeat users, the homepage structure & design, carousels, personalization, and promotions.

Homepage & Category

Category Taxonomy

Homepage & Category

Category Taxonomy

16 Guidelines, 92 Pages

The structural foundation of a site’s product categories, including information architecture, catalog breadth, and category naming.

Homepage & Category

Main Navigation

Homepage & Category

Main Navigation

17 Guidelines, 80 Pages

The visual design of an e-commerce site’s taxonomy, including mega drop-down menus, the visual hierarchy, and courtesy navigation.

Homepage & Category

Intermediary Category Pages

Homepage & Category

Intermediary Category Pages

7 Guidelines, 55 Pages

How Intermediary Category Pages can guide users toward better-defined categories and products using inspirational paths, featured products, and curated content.

Homepage & Category

Site-Wide Layout

Homepage & Category

Site-Wide Layout

18 Guidelines, 112 Pages

How general site-wide elements should be designed and positioned, including considerations on newsletter dialogs, ad positioning, footer, and return policy links.

Homepage & Category

Accessibility

Homepage & Category

Accessibility

19 Guidelines, 188 Pages

How to implement accessibility-compliance requirements for e-commerce sites including considerations for images, links, form fields, page setup, site structure, and overall visual design requirements.

Homepage & Category

Digital Subscription Services

Homepage & Category

Digital Subscription Services

23 Guidelines, 118 Pages

What digital subscription service sites need to provide for users, including what types of pages are needed, how access to specific content should be provided, and what information to include in and how to lay out the plan matrix.


Subscribe to Baymard Premium to access all of our Homepage & Category UX research

Get full access to all our Homepage & Category UX research reports, benchmarks, and page designs previewed here, along with our complete 550+ guidelines for Search, Product Listing, Product Details Page, Checkout, Accounts & Self-Service, and Mobile E-Commerce. Utilize our 71,000+ hours of UX research to improve your Homepage & Category user experience and to document your UX decisions.

Learn more about Baymard Premium


Test Methodology

This research on Homepage & Category UX is part of Baymard Institute’s full 71,000+ hours of large scale research catalog, which is based on:

  • Usability Testing: 12 rounds of qualitative usability testing with 1,900+ test subject/site sessions following the "Think Aloud" protocol (in-person 1:1 moderated lab usability testing).
  • Manual benchmarking: 27 rounds of benchmarking the world’s 93 top-grossing e-commerce sites across all 550+ UX guidelines (83,000+ implementation examples and 119,000+ UX performance scores).
  • In-lab eye-tracking testing.
  • Quantitative studies: 9 studies with a total of 14,453 participants.

Baymard’s research methodology is described in detail here.


UX Audit Service

GET YOUR E-COMMERCE NAVIGATION REVIEWED

What are the 15 most important changes you can make to your homepage and category design?

We will put together a detailed 40-page report of the 15 most important usability improvements you can make to your e-commerce homepage design and category taxonomy.

Get your navigation audited