This post examines several approaches to home page layout of ecommerce stores. When you people search for your brand online, most frequently they arrive to home page of your store. In your opinion, do searchers find your home page relevant? Or it is cluttered so much with everything in attempt to accommodate to any visitor, that nobody finds it useful? If you are not suкe about the answer, this post will help you sort this problem out.
All types of business can be divided in two categories:
- Company-manufacturers, like Apple, which can showcase one or several products on the home page.
- Companies, selling products of other retailers, for example, Walmart, which can show a large number of different categories on the home page.
Now let’s take a look at Apple and Walmart’s home pages.
Apple home page.
Obviously, Apple wants as many as possible users to find out about their iPhone 5S. It is obvious from one big image on the slider with motivational call to action, which company uses to promote the product. Below the image, there are four additional images also connected with the company and special features of its products. It is American version of the site.
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Now let’s take a look at Russian version.
The text is written in Russian, but we can see that the main image promotes iPad. The additional images tell about iPhone5S, iPhone5C and MacBook Air. This is because, most probably, the USA’s audience is not interested in these products so much anymore, that is why the company offers visitors to learn more about the atmosphere and feel around the products. In Russia the audience interest has not been used up, so apart from iPhone 5 the company offers notebooks.
This suggestion is proved by fact that earlier, when company promoted MacBook Air, they put its image on the main screen and supported it with 4 smaller images which also referred to the product in the spotlight.
This screenshot was taken shortly after new version of MacBook Air had been launched. The full attention is focused on one product because the company knows that most of the visitors will come to the site to learn about new product.
As the company-manufacturer, you may be very proud of your products and will naturally willing to promote it everywhere, but it is important to understand the sometimes it is not what will make your home page efficient.
Walmart’s home page.
When you sell thousands of products, customers are exposed to such a great number of details that you will have no choice but put site navigation and search by categories or certain products on the home page. You cannot act as a company-manufacturer. Your task is to understand what product categories are the most popular (or the most profitable). Those pages exactly you should promote. A good solution can be to place 10 or so of popular products on the home page.
This is why Walmart puts search and navigation in the first row as well as uses small images of the products to attract the attention of visitors who are not sure what they are looking for. Even though you cannot say for sure what new visitors will look for on your site, you can certainly determine what pages previous visitors of your site have visited. Monitoring what products have been viewed by your site visitors is especially important for retailers because later they can suggest these products when users return to the site.
Let’s consider an Amazon example.
Amazon home page Amazon home page is a hybrid of two cases we mentioned above. Interestingly, Amazon is a combination of manufacturer and retailer, which highlights Kindle with several large images preserving at the same time typical matrix of product thumbnails at the bottom. The success of home page design is directly depends on type of business and brand presented on the site and doesn’t have any universal formula. The examples we have explored above can be used as some typical cases, but it doesn’t mean they will work for all.
Home page: categories vs products
Does your home page have links to categories or products? Large stores home pages are quickly become overloaded with too many details. That is why let’s discuss two approached which online shops chose for their home page layout.
OfficeDepot.com vs Staples.com
In category approach home page functions as a medium that helps users find the product they need. That is why home page shows paths to important categories. OfficeDepot.com home page has no link which will bring you right on the product page – all links lead to categories or promotional pages. Even if you click “Epson Stylus® NX625”, you will not arrive on product page.
The argument in favor of such approach is that people looking for certain products, will look for them on Google and thus will arrive at the corresponding pages anyway. Users, who are not sure what they are searching for, will need review of different options, which category approach provides.
With product approach home page typically leads to the specific product pages. Staples’s home page almost doesn’t contain links to the categories, most of the links lead to specific products. Users who don’t know what they are looking for exactly, may use search box or site main navigation. Such approach turns out to be especially effective in combination with filters which allow to sort the products by certain criteria.
The pros of category approach: if the visitor is not sure what product he needs, he may explore its different parameters.
The cons of category approach: not all users will go to category pages via site navigation. that is why it is unlikely he will be able to get a clear idea of how site navigation works. So if the site targets repeated customers, it could be an issue.
The pros of product approach: immediate offer of products to the user. Moreover, users who are not sure what he is looking for will use site navigation.
The cons of product approach: site visitors may not wish to bother themselves with category pages search, which will certainly impact the search results quality.