Information Architecture Basics
We’ve mentioned information architecture in our introductory segment as an important part of E-Commerce website planning — but what does it really represent? Information architecture is a deliberate attempt to create the best possible user flow through specialized tools and content engagement on a particular website. It represents perfect unity of the basic pillars of an E-Commerce business:
- Customers (visitors, subscribers, and buyers)
- Content (blog posts, product descriptions, sales features)
- Context (a functional combination of above-mentioned elements)
If the information architecture is planned correctly, users will instinctively look for categories of products that suit their interests, engage with the search functionality and do their best to engage with your website’s features. While information architecture isn’t necessary for a functional E-Commerce site to be operational, it’s absence will be felt in the overall traffic and revenue rates it achieves.
The Most Important E-Commerce Website Features
No matter the industry in which your E-Commerce site will specialize, there are some basic elements and pages worth keeping in mind. These can serve as the perfect groundwork for further information architecture design activities, so keep them in mind going forward:
- Landing Page
- Product Portfolio Categories (dependent on your product lineup)
- Category 1
- Category 2
- Customer Support
- Shipping Issues & Questions
- Return Policy
- About Us
- Contact Us
Once you have established what products you will sell, to which countries and under what shipping circumstances, you can proceed further into your website planning efforts. Now that we have a better understanding of what information architecture is, let’s dive deeper into some E-Commerce website features by looking at End Clothing, an apparel storefront.
The Intricacies of High-Performing Information Architecture
As we can see from their landing page, the E-Commerce format they chose addresses the visitor directly without unnecessary ad elements unrelated to the brand’s product portfolio. The horizontal navigation bar is filled with drop-down menus which easily serve as a sitemap for customers and curious B2B onlookers.This effect can be achieved by implementing a professional sitemap builder which will guarantee that your information architecture has the right baseline. It is apparent by looking at their “Help” section that the E-Commerce site also features extensive customer support and service options, including live chat with a company representative. This type of forward-thinking website planning will always ensure that visitors convert into customers and spread positive thoughts about your brand.
If we access any product category featured on End Clothing, we will be greeted by a highly-functional search-optimized E-Commerce interface. Each category is designed to display “All” products which belong to it by default — however, this is only the tip of the website’s information architecture construct.
You can easily modify different filters such as brand, style, and color to match your preferences up with the perfect products available on the E-Commerce store. This allows for quick and easy purchase activities no matter how tech-savvy or experienced you may be with online shopping. Finding the best ways to cater to a wide range of customer profiles is one of the greatest challenges presented by the modern E-Commerce industry.Lastly, if we click on any product which might interest us further, the website’s highly-curated content will ensure that we make the final purchase decision quickly. Elements ranging from high-quality photographs, extensive customization options, and detailed product descriptions are all important features worth adding to your information architecture.
Best of all, End Clothing placed an easy-to-reach live chat button on each product page for quick access to their support agents, adding another stamp of proverbial approval in terms of UX design. If a visitor feels comfortable with the marketing content, social proof and product description elements featured on your E-Commerce website, the final purchase is highly likely to happen. This is why website planning is just as important as attractive discounts or exclusive sales offers – if no customer will trust your service, no amount of sales campaigns will help you grow as a business.
When it comes to purchasing products online, customers have grown out of the basic expectations of using a functional store to a more UX-oriented mindset. Whether you produce and sell your own products online or run a large E-Commerce reseller website, planning your site’s structure and sitemap is of utmost importance.In this regard, your website’s information architecture and the way you craft your customer’s journey can make or break your business. According to Top Tal, 88% of users are not likely to return to a website after a bad UX, with 62% less likely to purchase anything from that particular brand altogether. In the age of digital marketing and E-Commerce sales, perfection in customer servicing goes without saying.With that said, what are some of the most important features of E-Commerce website planning worth keeping in mind? Let’s take a look at how you can plan out your own online storefront through information architecture design in order to achieve better engagement and conversion rates.