How to Improve Navigation on your WooCommerce Store

Header image for Improve Navigation

Last updated - July 19, 2021

Navigation on your site plays a vital part in the success of your eCommerce business. An intuitive navigation helps your customers and prospects to find the products they are looking for easily. When you can get a lot of things right the first time, improving navigation is a persistent process that needs a lot of experiments and innovation. Knowing your audience is one of the fundamental aspects of creating a useful navigation on your store. Learn more about identifying a target audience here. As your business progresses, and your customer base grows, you can utilize the customer behavior data to experiment with different approaches. Here is an article that will help you familiarize with A/B Testing in WooCommerce. However, in this article, we will focus on specific tips to improve navigation on your WooCommerce store.

Familiarity in labeling

One of the first things a lot of visitors on your site would do is to browse through the available products on your store. Nothing helps here better than having a structure with easy to understand, top level category labels. These labels should describe the products that you sell in terms that everyone can understand. The top level category can have a number of sub categories under them, which will help customers to narrow down their searches. This sort of navigation structure can create a familiarity in the minds of customers easily, so that they will know where to look for a specific product.

screenshot of Pottery Barn to help improve navigation
Pottery Barn website instantly creates a certain familiarity with their category labeling, as customers will not have difficulty in deciding where to look for specific products.

Use attributes to categorize

Sometimes you want to nest the same sub category under two different broader categories depending on the relevance. You can do this when customers generally tend to look for a particular product category at different places. Continuing with the above example, you can see ‘Bookcases’ are available under Living Room Furniture as well as Home Office Furniture. You can use this approach if you find it helpful for the audience to find certain products whose position can be a bit ambiguous in your classification scheme.

However, if your store does not have a wide variety of products like in Pottery Barn, you can focus on the product attributes to create a category structure.

As headphones are all they are selling, here the category structure is defined by various attributes of headphones including price, functionality and usage.

Ajax Enabled Enhanced Layered Navigation

When you have a lot of variations of the same product with different attributes like color, size, etc., you can use this extension to create a seamless user experience. With the help of Ajax calls, it loads page faster. In addition, it provides more interactive user elements like color swatches, size selectors, check boxes, etc. The single site subscription of this plugin is available for $29.

Provide good product search options

Even if your navigation is top notch, you still need to invest in a good product search option. Because there will be customers who know what exactly they are looking for on your store. For them, going through your layered navigation to spot a product will be cumbersome. A no nonsense product search that gives them the right product is thus an essential factor on your store.

WooCommerce Product Search

When they know what they are looking for, your customers can easily find products on your store with the help of this extension. The Live Search functionality displays the product with image and price, even before users complete typing out the name. Such fast results can really help to improve customer experience on your store. There are also Live Filters that will help customers narrow down their search based on different attributes of the product. It will help you display relevant results based on search weights that you can define on the settings page. Also, interactive visual options in the filters make your site more user friendly. The single site subscription is available for purchase at $49. The 5-site subscription is $99 and 25-site subscription is $149.

This extension enhances your product search option to help improve customer experience along with helping you gain valuable insights.

Stay out of experimenting with the basic navigation

You might have a different perspective on how your navigation should be. But it is not quite an area to experiment. One of the primary goals of your web store is to make customers find and buy products from your store. And customers are conditioned to certain patterns when it comes to finding products. The above mentioned nested category option is somewhat a norm in eCommerce navigation. Most eCommerce sites will have the hamburger icon denoting the menu, and customers are used to it. If you change this accepted pattern, you are going to create fresh problems in navigation for your customers. And, customers would not appreciate pushing them out of the comfort zone on an online shopping site. So, it is better to follow the accepted norms in fundamental web design.

Add products on sale

A lot of your customers are probably looking for products on sale. If you have products on sale most of the time, you can include that in the navigation structure too. That way, you can help them find the products on sale more easily. And, it will become an added push to your product promotion efforts. If you would like to read more about product promotion strategies, you can find a few tips here.

Product Recommendations

A smart navigation is also about leading customers to where you want them to be. A lot of this is dependent on how much you know about what customers want. You can gain a lot of insights on the interests of customers when they are on your site. Based on these insights, you can recommend similar products for them to check out. On your product pages, you can display a selection of products which you think your customers would like.

Sometimes customers must have followed your navigation and reached this particular product. They might not even know there are other products similar to this one on their site. And if your product recommendations include one of the products that they find more relevant, it will be really awesome for them.

Now, there are two ways to do this on your WooCommerce store. With the default settings of WooCommerce, you will be able to define products that are displayed. You need to select the products you want to display as up sells or cross sells on your WooCommerce admin. This can be a taxing process if you have a lot of products on your store. Here is a plugin that you can try out:

Recommendation Engine

This plugin automatically creates product recommendations on your site. However, the products are just not chosen based on the category it falls under. Instead, the plugin uses insights from user behavior on the site and the purchase history of the user to show recommendations. It also takes into account the number of times two products are purchased together. The plugin helps you place the recommendations on the product pages with the help of two widgets.

Automatic product recommendations will help your customers find related products on the site, which they might consider for purchase. Overall, this plugin makes your up sells and cross sells more targeted.

The single site subscription of the plugin is available for purchase at $79. 5-site subscription is $99 and 25-site subscription is $199.

Help customers to get back in track

Sometimes customers visit your site for a particular product, and might get distracted with all your product recommendations. At a point, they might decide to leave all the other products they are checking out and come back to the original product they were planning to buy. How easy will it be to get back to the product they are actually interested in. Sometimes it might result in a frustrating experience for the customers if they are not able to quickly get back.

Here is a plugin that would help in such a scenario

YITH Recently Viewed Products

This plugin helps to create a list of products a particular customer has viewed recently. This will enable customers to quickly go back to the product they were considering to buy. You can show these products on a dedicated page, or more interestingly, using a slider. The plugin also helps you send automatic emails to customers regarding the products they showed interest in the last visit. To make things more rewarding for the customers, this plugin also allows you to attach a discount code in the email.

Having recently viewed products displayed on your site will help users choose easily from multiple products that they have viewed.

Furthermore, it maintains the ‘recently viewed’ products even when the customer logs in using another browser. With the help of shortcodes, you can determine the number of products and their order to be shown as well. With the help of this plugin, you can also show up sell products on your sidebar as well.

A single site subscription is available for purchase at €57. 6-site license is priced at €98, and 30-site subscription is for €163.

A/B testing before changes in navigation

A/B testing is a great way to understand how your customers feel about your navigation. Every time you feel a certain element on your site needs to be changed, you need to test it thoroughly. You can’t really make an important change on your site based on assumptions. A/B Testing will help you understand clearly your customer’s preferences.

There are several different aspects that you can test to improve your navigation. For example, the order with which you display your menu items can be an aspect that have some significance. You can try two different orders and try which one your customer base likes. When you do an A/B test, it is important to set up both variations at the same time. You can show different variations to customers based on their geographical location or user roles. Another good strategy will be to try one design on returning customers and another on new customers. Also, according to expert opinion, trying two variations in a different time period would not be helpful as other factors might come into play.

There are several other aspects of your navigation that you can test with an A/B testing tool. These include changing the title of menu items, making the menu sticky while the page is scrolled, etc. You can use one of the popular A/B testing tools to conduct a test on your site’s navigation. Read our article on A/B testing for a lot more insights.


Your site’s navigation is an important component that determines its user-friendliness. When you are running an eCommerce store, it will have a direct impact on your sales and conversions as well. So, it is really important that you get a solid idea on how customers are finding your navigation. Sometimes conducting surveys would help you to understand what customers like or dislike in your site’s navigation. Or, you can observe the customer behavior and interactions and arrive at your own conclusions. Either way, it is an area that needs constant attention. We hope we have covered some important points that will help you improve navigation on your WooCommerce site. Please share with us if you have tried a specific strategy to improve navigation on your store.

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