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And Those That From A Distance Resemble Flies: Improve Your Web Conversion By Improving Your Categories And Taxonomies

Categories Of All Known Animals

  1. Those that belong to the Emperor;
  2. Embalmed ones;
  3. Those that are trained;
  4. Suckling pigs;
  5. Mermaids;
  6. Fabulous ones;
  7. Stray dogs;
  8. Those that are included in this classification;
  9. Those that tremble as if they were mad;
  10. Innumerable ones;
  11. Those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush;
  12. Those that have just broken the flower vase;
  13. Those that from a distance resemble flies.

from the 1668 Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, as per Jorge Luis Borges

In our web effectiveness practice, we help online retailers make their sites more usable and more likely to convert visitors into buyers.

One theme that comes up repeatedly is categorization. How to categorize and present major navbar links. How to categorize and present subnav links. How to categorize and present site search results. And so on.

Your current categories make perfect sense to you, the site owner. After all, you live and breathe your merchandise, and you know your site like the back of your hand. Your categories and taxonomy reflect your intimacy with the subject.

But your categories might be less than clear to your users. Your web analytics reports likely show that most of your visitors bounce in for just a page or two and then leave. Most of your visitors have neither the time nor the interest to give much thought your categories. Your categories must be blatantly and instantly clear to them. To them, not to you.

How can you improve your navigation, categories, and product taxonomies?

Card sorting can reveal sensible categories for products and navigation. Guerilla user testing can show where users stumble. Paper prototyping and low-fi mockups can offer cheap validation before developing more costly production UI code. And mining your site search results can reveal gaps between how visitors describe what they want and how your site describes what you have.

Your current nav and prodcat categories likely make sense to you.

It can be highly profitable to consider if a different organization might make more sense to your users.

funny-choice of categories

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  • Alan Rimm-Kaufman
    Alan Rimm-Kaufman founded the Rimm-Kaufman Group...
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