Homepage & Category Navigation UX

How do users perceive your homepage and navigate your categories?


A Research Study on ‘Homepage & Category’ UX

61 guidelines for e-commerce navigation

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.


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 three times, first in October 2013 and latest in May 2018. 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 5,870+ categorized best- and worst-practice implementation examples from leading e-commerce sites.

The Homepage & Category Navigational UX performance for the average top grossing US and European e-commerce site is just above “acceptable”, with an impressive 7 of the 60 view) sites benchmarked having an overall “good” UX implementation and performance, and only 2 having substantial overall UX issues – with the “large middle” performing acceptable.

With that said, the benchmark dataset also shows that there’s still room for improvements when looking within the specific topics of the user experience – in particularly the UX within Homepage, Main Navigation, and ntermediary Category Pages, cause issues for many sites, with some generally “missed opportunities” within the e-commerce industry as a whole.

Learn more on Homepage & Category UX performance in:

Our article “7 Navigational Implementations that Make Kohl’s Best-in-Class”
By exploring our e-commerce 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 categories.

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.

Browse all 641 Homepage & Category Navigation design examples




5 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):

5 × Homepage & Category Topics

Homepage & Category

Homepage

Homepage & Category

Homepage

15 Guidelines, 61 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

15 Guidelines, 79 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

16 Guidelines, 64 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

6 Guidelines, 32 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

12 Guidelines, 54 Pages

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

8 × Industry-Specific Collections

Industry-Specific

Apparel

Industry-Specific

Apparel

101 Guidelines, 14 Case Studies

101 guidelines that our usability testing reveals to have both a high UX impact on sites selling Apparel products, while at the same time being ‘missed opportunities’ and often overlooked within this industry.

Industry-Specific

Mass Merchant

Industry-Specific

Mass Merchant

124 Guidelines, 17 Case Studies

124 guidelines that our usability testing reveals to have both a high UX impact on Mass Merchant sites, while at the same time being ‘missed opportunities’ and often overlooked within this industry.

Industry-Specific

Electronics & Office

Industry-Specific

Electronics & Office

122 Guidelines, 11 Case Studies

122 guidelines that our usability testing reveals to have both a high UX impact on sites selling Electronics & Office products, while at the same time being ‘missed opportunities’ and often overlooked within this industry.

Industry-Specific

Home & Hardware

Industry-Specific

Home & Hardware

83 Guidelines, 6 Case Studies

83 guidelines that our usability testing reveals to have both a great UX impact on sites selling Home & Hardware products, while at the same time being ‘missed opportunities’ and often overlooked within this industry.

Industry-Specific

Houseware & Furnishings

Industry-Specific

Houseware & Furnishings

74 Guidelines, 4 Case Studies

74 guidelines that our usability testing reveals to have both a high UX impact on sites selling Houseware & Furnishing products, while at the same time being ‘missed opportunities’ and often overlooked in the industry.

Industry-Specific

Health & Beauty

Industry-Specific

Health & Beauty

53 Guidelines, 2 Case Studies

53 guidelines that our usability testing reveals to have both a high UX impact on sites selling Health & Beauty products, while at the same time being ‘missed opportunities’ and often overlooked within this industry.

Industry-Specific

Sports, Toys, & Hobbies

Industry-Specific

Sports, Toys, & Hobbies

66 Guidelines, 6 Case Studies

66 guidelines that our usability testing reveals to have both a high UX impact on sites selling Sports, Toys, & Hobby products, while at the same time being ‘missed opportunities’ and often overlooked within this industry.

Industry-Specific

Business-to-Business

Industry-Specific

Business-to-Business

155 Guidelines

154 guidelines that our usability testing reveals to have both a high UX impact on sites selling Business-to-Business, while at the same time being ‘missed opportunities’ and often overlooked for B2B e-commerce sites.

(Baymard Premium also gives you access to an additional 64 reports with 640+ research findings on topics such as E-Commerce Search, Product Listing, Product Pages, Checkout, Mobile E-Commerce, and Account & Self-Service - the complete set of findings from Baymard’s 42,000+ hours of large-scale UX testing & research)


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


Test Methodology

This research on Homepage & Category Navigation UX is part of Baymard Institute’s full 42,000+ hours of large scale research catalog, which is based on:

  1. Usability Testing: 8 rounds of qualitative usability testing with 1,200+ test subject/site sessions following the “Think Aloud” protocol (in-person 1:1 moderated lab usability testing).
  2. 12 rounds of manual benchmarking of the world’s 60 top-grossing e-commerce sites across all 700+ UX guidelines across (34,900+ implementation examples and 57,100+ UX performance scores).
  3. In-lab eye-tracking testing.
  4. 8 quantitative studies with a total of 10,721 participants.

Baymard’s research methodology is described in detail here.