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I develop a website (shermanbrothers.com) that sells products (gasp). I'm trying to figure out whether it's more effective to create navigation that target my users based on their general characteristics that:

  • meet the qualities of the consumer (e.g. men's shoes, women's shoes, kid's shoes, accessories....)
  • or qualities of the product (e.g. dress shoes, casual shoes, work shoes, ...).

Obviously I want both covered in the end, but it's a question of which to emphasize.

Any studies or A/B testing or just general logical approaches to this topic?

share|improve this question
Are you asking about marketing (SEO/SEM/banners) to attract new customers or user experience (information architecture/navigation) for customers who have arrived at your site..? – danlefree Jul 19 '11 at 18:55
I'm asking as far as ease of discoverability for existing users, for navigation purposes. Clarified the language of the question a little. – Kzqai Jul 19 '11 at 20:39
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I suggest that you categorise by consumer demographic (men/women/kids), but filter by qualities (formal/casual/price/style/colour etc.).

In this way, you create a drill-down system that allows visitors to find exactly what they're looking for, starting with the widest selection (e.g. men's) in your main navigation area before focussing gradually on the final item (men's black brogues size 11 under $100).

As a case study, take ASOS, the British online fashion retailer. They offer broad categories in the navigation area at the top of the page:

ASOS nav area

Click on any of those links (e.g. MEN), and you see a filterable selection of products in the left column:

ASOS subnav

Click on any of those, and you see a page of products with further filters in the left-hand column:

ASOS filters

The experience is designed to take you from a very broad category to a very specific one in a few clicks. It works. I often shop there first because I know that I'll be able to find what I'm after.

share|improve this answer
+1 very good example of good and easy navigation, thanks for sharing it! – Marco Demaio Jul 20 '11 at 19:53

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