Understanding Website Taxonomy


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It depicts the importance of taxonomy for any e-commerce website and it's impact on user behavior & experience. It also exhibits key challenges for any online retailer in designing taxonomy for his/her website. The taxonomy evaluation has been done for a big online retailer from USA.

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Understanding Website Taxonomy

  1. 1. Understanding Website Taxonomy
  2. 2. Storyline • What is taxonomy? • Primarily shelf spaces of off-line stores • Left-nav attributes • Different elements of taxonomy • Why do we need taxonomy? • People who reach products by searching vs. finding • Key considerations in designing taxonomy • When do you break sub-categories? Potentially look at category conversion rates to determine • Nomenclature • How deep and how extensive? • Sort order options - alphabetically or by popularity • Recommendations for furniture category
  3. 3. Taxonomy is your (online) store layout…
  4. 4. Taxonomy is User Experience
  5. 5. By definition Taxonomy is… • a hierarchical topic structure where items are assigned through dual basis of classification and categorization • Facilitates retrieval & find-ability in both browsing and searching • Supports tagging/meta-data/indexing of content • In a off-line stores it is called “shelf space”, where in online stores it is called as “Left navigation attributes” or “Facets”
  6. 6. Or Simply this . . . Labelling content & assets Enhances find-ability Something IA’s do Organizing & classifying stuff A practice centered around data Behind the scenes work Facet / filter creation
  7. 7. Typical characteristics of an Ecommerce Taxonomy • Separate hierarchy for each department or broad product category o Typically 5 – 20 top categories/hierarchies o Typical hierarchy depth of 3-4 levels o Typically 3 – 20 terms/subcategories per level • Ordering/arrangement is not always alphabetical, rather popular or logical • May also have metadata or facets, typically at deeper hierarchy levels
  8. 8. Few Samples 29+ 18+ Top Level Categories 14+ 15+ 14+
  9. 9. Sub-categories in hierarchies
  10. 10. Metadata/Facets
  11. 11. Why do we need taxonomy ? Taxonomy and Facets enables • Find-ability  To lead a consumer to the right area and help him/her to find the product s/he is looking for”  Good taxonomy facilitates assisted navigation across the website • Expedites decision making  Structured product information  Cleaner and distinct facets  More options  Better facets  Better left hand navigation  Ease of filtering & selection
  12. 12. Key considerations while designing taxonomy 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Correct classification structure ? When do you break sub-categories? Nomenclature How deep and how extensive ? Sort order options - alphabetically or by popularity
  13. 13. Classification structure
  14. 14. Category classification influences Shopping behavior “A sofa” or “a sofa for living room” Bedroom Sofas Kitchen Chairs Furniture Furniture Living Room Beds Bathroom Tables Classify categories the way your shoppers like to shop
  15. 15. When do you break sub-categories?
  16. 16. Sales Category conversion rate Low category - conversion rate indicates: Conversion Rate Look at the conversion rates Need for more subcategories • Large number of assortments under the category • Possible need to re-categorize or break the category into more logical subcategories Re-categorization will aid more appropriate performance insights for the category
  17. 17. Nomenclature
  18. 18. Name is the game Unorthodox naming convention can leave your customers confused Result = Lost customer
  19. 19. Category names should be consistent with your physical store Offline Online Will help Migrators Why ? Homogeneous nomenclature will assist “loyal offline shoppers” to adapt to online shopping easily
  20. 20. Industry standard naming convention will comfort new customers Your Website Competitors Why ? New Customers will adapt easily to your online store
  21. 21. Depth and Extensiveness
  22. 22. Extensive category hierarchy enhances navigation as well as user experience Level of hierarchies 2 3 4 Category insights Poor Moderate Highly detailed & accurate Website Navigation Manual – Highly Dependent on search Moderate find-abilty Assisted navigation Facet Count Very High High Low Customer Attrition Risk Very High High Low Chances of poly-hierarchy Low High High
  23. 23. Deeper does not always mean better Extra deep category structure will lead to: Too many clicks for customers Complex categorization of products Mazy Navigation High Risk of Customer Attrition Poor User Experience Poor category insights Long breadcrumb trails How do you know if the category structure is too deep ? Category conversion rate Very low Assortment size Small Look at Last level sub categories need to be consolidated
  24. 24. Sort Order
  25. 25. Left to Right & Top to Bottom. . . Discovery • Eyes follow a general left to right and top to bottom while surfing through a webpage I take interest • Category arrangement is a key influencer of user behavior and navigation on a website • Should be aligned directly with your business objective/strategy I scan • Sub-category expansion should ideally be arranged left to right Search • Top level categories can be arranged from top to bottom
  26. 26. Sorting Options You can sort either by: • Popularity: Top selling categories can be presented headmost • Assortment Size: Categories are positioned in the descending order of their assortment size from top to bottom • Alphabetical: Categories can be listed in plain alphabetical order
  27. 27. Lets evaluate taxonomy of one of the largest multi-brand online retailer (US based) Count Top Level Categories 11 Level 2 63 Level 3 276 Level 3 - Visible on homepage 190 86 level-3 subcategories are not visible on homepage
  28. 28. Lets look specifically at furniture category Key Observations:  3 Level hierarchy  Category nomenclature in compliance to industry standards  12 L2 categories  No unanimity in categorization methodology  Around 86 L3 categories  Visible to customers only if they click through one of the L2s  Alphabetical sort order  Does not really enchant customers
  29. 29. Categorization methodology is a concern Categorized by Rooms  Ideal Categorization methodology Categorized by Utility  These should ideally be classified as L3s Categorized by Service offers  Can be included as a L3 under each of the rooms  Already included on the homepage under clearance section  Increases polyhierarchism
  30. 30. Ideal categorization for furniture category
  31. 31. Questions Salman Shaikh Business Analyst – Marketing Operations salman.shaikh@iksula.com