Shoppers don’t always access your product and supporting pages from the main navigation. More often than not, they get there after using the search function or being redirected from a search engine. Breadcrumbs are often used but these can be misunderstood or overlooked by a subset of users. Showing them their navigation path helps them know where they are and where they can go from their current position.
By navigation path, I mean the menu items in the header (or burger menu) that lead to the current page. These should follow the stages of the main navigation. For example:
- Level 1 (directly shown in your main menu): Electronics
- Level 2: Accessories
- Level 3: Phone Cases
Even if shoppers already know the path they took because they started on the homepage and clicked a category, then a subcategory, etc, it’s still important to remind them where they are. Online shopping should never be a mentally demanding activity. Customers don’t often bother to memorize every step of their navigational journey and you shouldn’t place the burden of recalling it on them.
Highlighting the navigational path also helps keep customers on your site for longer. When people get lost online, they often turn to the address bar which might lead to them leaving your site. You definitely don’t want them leaving. The longer they stay, the higher the chance of them buying something. People also buy more stuff on longer shipping sessions.
- Make the highlight unique so that it doesn’t clash with other menu highlighted items.
- Keep the highlighted menu items clickable.