You work hard to create great products and drive visitors to your WooCommerce store. However, people can only buy the products that they can find. Once on your site, it’s essential for shoppers to have an easy way to move throughout your site and find the items they are interested in. That’s why you should have a strategy for WooCommerce navigation.
This post outlines how to create a strong navigation design for your WooCommerce store.
What makes a good WooCommerce navigation menu?
The layout of your site navigation significantly impacts how visitors discover products. Shoppers don’t want to sift through a confusing maze to find the items they’re interested in. This is why it’s critical to arrange your menu in a clear and concise manner.
To create a user-friendly WooCommerce navigation menu, you need systematic labeling and an organized hierarchy.
Visitors should quickly know where to go after landing on your homepage. They should not have to consciously think about how to move through the site or where they should look to click.
There are generally two styles that are most effective to achieve this.
Horizontally across the top of the page
The most common, and effective, approach to an ecommerce navigation menu is a top-level navigation menu, spanning horizontally across the page.
This layout is the most effective because it is where customers normally look first when determining where to go.
Numerous eye-tracking studies have consistently shown that users start by looking at the header menu. Specifically, they begin on the left side of the page and quickly scan from left to right.
Vertically down the left side of the page
While most ecommerce sites go for the horizontal navigation menu, others have so many categories that they don’t have enough space to cover them all.
For these sites, the best approach is to use a vertical menu on the left-side of the page. The most common example is Amazon. The ecommerce giant has dozens of categories that couldn’t possibly fit (in a legible manner) in a traditional navigation menu.
When you click the All icon on the retailer’s site, a menu opens with different departments. Clicking any of these departments opens a menu with the nested categories.
Keep in mind, that there are some downsides to this approach.
When the entire catalog navigation is hidden under an All label, customers must make multiple clicks to move through the menu. It also obscures what type of products your store carries.
Below, we can see an example of this with Best Buy’s website.
All the products are nested under the Menu label. Shoppers more familiar with the company may know what to expect. But those who are not may not be clear on the specific types of products the large retailer offers.
WooCommerce navigation best practices
Here are some other best practices to help you optimize your WooCommerce navigation menu.
1. Category taxonomies
Your most important categories should form the primary headings of your menu.
These products/categories will be visible at all times as your customer navigates your website.
However, it is worth noting that while it may feel at odds with the other categories you have created if you have a product that outsells everything else on your site then consider allocating some of this prime navigation space to it.
According to Baymard, the average ecommerce site has significant issues when it comes to category taxonomies, with 50% of sites having a poor category layout. Specifically, overcategorization is the biggest category-based navigational issue for e-commerce sites.
Breadcrumbs are another useful navigation feature. They help customers know where they are on your site. Breadcrumbs also make it easier for visitors to return to previous pages as well as connected pages in your hierarchical structure.
Without the breadcrumbs, it’s more difficult for shoppers to move through your site.
Breadcrumbs also have an SEO benefit. They help Google understand the hierarchy of your site which in turn helps your pages rank better.
A typical breadcrumb menu on a product page looks like this: Parent Category > SubCategory > Product.
When someone clicks the clickable text for the parent or subcategory, they will be quickly directed to that page. Many ecommerce sites also include the homepage as a base for all breadcrumb menus.
Breadcrumbs can usually be turned on or off in your theme settings. Depending on the theme, you may have this option for pages, products, and categories.
If you theme doesn’t have breadcrumbs, there are several plugins you can use to quickly implement them. Jetpack, for example, allows you to use breadcrumbs on website pages, though not on product or category pages.
Each plugin will allow for different levels of customization, and setup will vary. For a full list of options, take a look at the WordPress plugin repository.
3. Only use common icons
Icons are everywhere on the internet. These symbols allow sites to replace text with an easy-to-process symbol that takes up less space. But, for icons to work as intended, they must be understood by your audience.
If you use icons that no one is familiar with, they won’t have the desired effect of improving the user experience.
To give you an example, think of the magnifying glass that is common on many sites. You are likely familiar with this symbol and know that it indicates a site search feature. Similarly, you probably know that bag, cart, and basket icons lead to the ecommerce shopping cart page.
4. Include a logo with a link to your homepage
To some, this one may seem obvious but it’s important not to overlook. At this point, it’s an internet standard to include your logo in your site header, next to the navigation menu. The logo should also contain a link to your homepage.
Having this element makes it easy for users to return to the front of your site. Everyone expects it and some will be thrown off if this common feature is missing.
The position of your logo also matters. A study from NNgroup found that getting back to the homepage is about six times harder when the logo is placed in the center of a page compared to when it’s in the top-left corner.
Additionally, participants of the study remembered the brand name more often when it was displayed on the left side. In fact, the brand recall lift was 89% when the logo was on the left versus the right.
The reason for this again has to do with the left-to-right way most brains process information. People tend to look at and focus on the left side of the screen first and are thus more likely to recall what’s on the left side of the page.
5. Make the navigation sticky
Sticky navigation is when the menu, typically the top menu, is locked into place. It doesn’t disappear on scrolling, so it’s accessible no matter where a user is on the page.
Sticky navigation bars are quicker to navigate. They simply make browsing faster and easier, especially when a website has a lot of information.
Creating a WooCommerce navigation menu
With WordPress, the default setup for creating menus and populating them with items is available by going to Appearance > Menu. The layout of your menu items is determined by your WordPress theme’s CSS.
If you want to customize this design, your options are to dive into the CSS or to use a WordPress plugin. A plugin can save you time from editing files and writing new code.
Below, we’ll look at how to use WordPress plugins to create a great menu for your WooCommerce store.
Max Mega Menu
Max Mega Menu is one of the most popular WordPress navigation plugins. It has extensive features for creating both extensive mega menus and flyout menus. It is great for ecommerce stores looking to create navigation menus with many categories and subcategories.
The plugin works in tandem with the default WordPress menu editor. There is also an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor to quickly craft your robust mega menus.
While you’ll still define your menu items with the default WordPress menu editor, you’ll configure the design of your new menus in the Mega Menu settings.
Start by going to Mega Menu > Menu Themes > General Settings. From there, you can set the arrow styles, line height, and the optional shadow to apply to both mega and flyout menus. You can also enable hover transitions for your menu items.
Next, you’ll want to go to the Menu Bar tab to set the sizing and colors for your menu bar. You can adjust padding, fonts, border radiuses, backgrounds, and spacing.
Below, you’ll see similar settings for the top-level menu items.
The plugin has separate design settings for Mega Menus, Flyout Menus, and Mobile Menus.
Once you’ve designed your themes, you must assign them to the appropriate menu location. Click the label for Menu Locations. There, you’ll see a list of your current WordPress menus.
Find the menu that you want to assign a theme and open the dropdown. This will take you to the General Settings where you can enable the Mega Menu plugin for that specific menu.
In the Menu Locations section, you’ll also find advanced settings
Closing thoughts on WooCommerce navigation
Good WooCommerce navigation design is simple, clean, and attractive to your shoppers. Implementing strong navigation isn’t overly difficult but it is easy to overlook.
Especially when you’re primarily focused on optimizing your pages and checkout for conversions.
Take the time to intentionally set up your navigation so users can easily find what they’re after. Both your customers and bottom line will be pleased as a result.