Three years may not feel like a long time, but in the realm of technology it can mean the difference between listening to a 90’s single with HitClips and a custom 2000’s playlist on a first gen iPod. Back in 2011, Econsultancy analyzed the trends that emerged from a look at the navigational menus of 26 selected ecommerce websites. Now Econsultancy is comparing those designs to each company’s present-day layout, looking for patterns and clues into what’s changed and why.
Here are some of the key takeaways Trinity Insight found from these side-by-side comparisons:
- It is common now for mega menu drop downs to fill the entire screen, rather than a piece of it. This is likely due to the use of responsive design where mobile and tablet users need the full range of screen to read all of the choices for sub-categories available.
- Conversely, some websites are condensing their menus to consist of only one or two columns for simpler browsing to reduce overwhelm some even getting rid of their drop down menus all together.
- Headings have gotten larger. Again, in an effort to help users shop more quickly and efficiently, the sub-headings under each department have been made to stand out with color, font size, spacing and even icon pictures and hero images to help visitors navigate the menu more easily.
- Numerous retailers have added in vanity pages that are meant for browsing. For example, John Lewis included a whole “Highlights” column for special offers and seasonal products; ASOS expanded to include the ranges “Boutique” and “Preowned”; and House of Fraser includes “Highlights” and “Inspirations & Ideas” under each category.
Very few companies maintained an identical design over the last few years, and all made notable changes to the mega menu taxonomy. It’s apparent that every business within this sample geared their redesign towards a user base that has progressed to mobile shopping. To stay competitive in the marketplace, you need to be constantly reassessing your user experience, testing the results of different keywords and categories, colors, images, branding and more.