Ecommerce Navigation in 2024: Examples & Best Practices

Ecommerce Navigation in 2024: Examples & Best Practices

Navigation on the website is a critical thing for every ecommerce business. The way content is structured directly influences conversions, user satisfaction, and SEO of your website.

Ecommerce navigation should be well-structured and has unique requirements designed to assist customers in finding and purchasing things. This can be achieved through different features like a sticky menu or call to action on your navigation bar. But how do you decide which features to use and when? What criteria to keep in mind while choosing navigation?

We’ll share some handy information that could help you create a well-structured website. By examining successful ecommerce navigation examples, you’ll understand what “well-optimized navigation” looks like in action.

Key Considerations Before Choosing Ecommerce Navigation

There are many types of ecommerce navigation menus that you can use but not all of them can be helpful for visitors. Before choosing the menu, you can keep to simple criteria:

What Your Site is About

What do you sell? How many products do you have? What kind of content are you offering? You should ask yourself all these questions before choosing website navigation. A large store with many categories might benefit from a mega menu, whereas a small store with a few categories might use a straightforward horizontal menu. The same goes for categories: for broader product lines, using more generic terms could be better, but if you sell niche items, specific category names might be appropriate.

The amount and type of content also play a part in creating well-organized website navigation. You might need a dedicated section or a separate menu for informational pages (like “About Us” or “Blog”), so consider this factor as well.

How Users Access the Site

It’s crucial to know what device your users access from as it determines which navigation to prioritize. For example, desktop users have more screen real estate, which allows using a horizontal menu with many categories. However, such menus can be inconvenient on mobile devices, so mobile users may benefit from a hamburger menu better. Ideally, your ecommerce website should accommodate both types of menus.

How Users Engage With You

Analyzing how customers search for products may also be helpful for choosing the right navigation. If the search is dominant, a prominent search bar might be more important than a complex menu. To determine what and where to place elements, you can use a heatmap, which shows exactly where users interact the most. This also will give you a clue on how to rearrange menu items or where to add visual cues.

What to Include in Your Ecommerce Navigation

Primary Categories

Start creating the ecommerce navigation bar by defining the main sections, which typically represent the broadest groupings of your products. For example, a clothing store might have categories like “Men,” “Women,” “Kids,” and “Accessories.”

It’s crucial to keep the navigation bar simple and concise, so limit your categories to 5-7 primary categories at most. This approach helps prevent confusion and ensures that visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.

Transactional Links and a CTA Button

Transactional links, such as shopping cart, user account, and CTAs, guide users toward the purchase. Optimizing their placement and functionality is crucial to driving conversions without overwhelming visitors.

Make the shopping cart icon easily visible and accessible on the website. Typically, it is placed in the top navigation bar. Also, consider using hover-over details that provide a concise breakdown of items added to the cart, including quantity, price, and thumbnails, allowing users to edit or remove them on the fly.

Additionally, ensure seamless access to the user account, which serves as the customer’s control panel. Here, they can easily log in, view and manage their profile information, track order statuses, and personalize settings within their account hub. A user account can boost the personalized shopping experience on your website, which can result in conversions.

The inclusion of CTAs is paramount as well. Signs such as ”Contact Us”, “Sign Up”, “Get Started”, “Special Offers”, or “Sale” guide visitors toward desired actions and lead to purchases. Make CTAs stand out from the rest of the links with contrasting colors or prominent buttons to grab user attention.

Search Bar

If your product catalog is quite extensive, it’s recommended to display a search bar at the top of your website’s navigation. A quick search functionality empowers users to find what they are looking for as fast as possible, leading to more conversions and sales.

When designing the search bar, make sure it’s fast and useful for buyers. It should primarily include search autocomplete & suggestions features to expedite the search process by suggesting products on the fly, with every letter you type. For even faster product discovery, you can show product icons and brief descriptions in the search results. Additionally, consider implementing autocorrect and synonyms that return relevant products covering typos, misspellings, and related searches to capture a wider range of users.

Other Links

Some websites may require additional links because of their unique website specialization or location. These can include links to important but secondary pages like “Delivery Information,” “Returns Policy,” “Language Options,” or “Currency Selector.” However, to keep your main navigation clear and focused, put these links in the footer or secondary navigation bar.

Top 5 Ecommerce Navigation Types & Examples

Horizontal Bar

The horizontal menu is one of the most frequently used ecommerce navigation menus as it’s straightforward and easy to use. The design of such a menu allows you to add any kind of content in the body of the page, while keeping the layout uncluttered on all devices.

Also, horizontal navigation keeps key product categories constantly visible at the top of the page, promoting easy access and discovery.

Top 5 Ecommerce Navigation Types & Examples — Horizontal Bar

Vertical Menu

Vertical navigation, or sidebar, is also commonly used on different websites, but it is usually combined with the hamburger menu. The benefit of such an ecommerce navigation type is that it may contain many categories, which users can discover by scrolling down. Vertical navigation helps to save space on the screen, allowing the addition of valuable content.

Top 5 Ecommerce Navigation Types & Examples — Vertical Menu

Vertical menus are also a common way to display product filters. These filters help users narrow down their search results based on specific criteria like color, size, brand, or price. By providing a user-friendly filtering system through a vertical menu, you can significantly improve the browsing experience and help customers find exactly what they’re looking for.

Simplify Shopping with Advanced Filters

Let customers easily find products on your Magento 2 store with advanced filtering options like color, size, price, rating, etc. to increase conversions & sales.

Mega Menu

A mega menu is very helpful if you have many items to offer. This type of navigation can help you visualize and structure all types of products. Thanks to its design, the website can be separated into categories with sub-menus to ensure correct navigation across a wide range of things. Also, unlike others, a mega menu allows you to add visuals, which makes the design more appealing. 

This type of navigation helps big-sized websites to keep organized and consistent while proposing a big range of categories and items. However, carefully consider the size, nature, and purposes of your website to create really helpful and optimized navigation.

Top 5 Ecommerce Navigation Types & Examples — Mega Menu

Hamburger Menu

This type of menu, known as the hamburger menu, is particularly appealing. It is commonly used on websites with limited space and on devices with small screens. Clicking on the icon with two or three dashes reveals the panel with categories.

The main aspect of this navigation is that you hide all categories in the hamburger menu to save space. However, these hidden categories might seem less important or be difficult to find for some users who are not familiar with the design of the hamburger menu.

Etsy found a solution by adding a description (“Categories”) next to the hamburger icon, which subconsciously encourages users to explore it. While this type of navigation is extremely helpful for websites that lack space, adding triggers like this can make it more effective.

Top 5 Ecommerce Navigation Types & Examples — Hamburger Menu

Sticky Menu

A sticky menu or fixed menu is very convenient as it provides users with easily accessible navigation whenever they scroll. The main benefit of this ecommerce navigation menu is that it allows users to quickly and simply search for the necessary information or category. 

However, it’s important to consider how a sticky menu may affect your overall design. While it promotes accessible navigation, it can occupy valuable screen space, especially on mobile devices. For mobile devices, you can implement a hamburger menu, which reveals a horizontal menu upon interaction and doesn’t take up much space.

Additionally, consider that sticky menus might not always match the content. For example, active animations could distract users from the navigation and make the menu inconvenient to use.

Top 5 Ecommerce Navigation Types & Examples — Sticky Menu

Additional Features to Include in Your Ecommerce Navigation


Breadcrumbs are a very convenient type of navigation, but they shouldn’t serve as the primary one. This ecommerce navigation menu enhances both SEO and user experience. On complex websites, breadcrumbs act as a shortcut, allowing users to easily navigate the category hierarchy, saving clicks and time. Furthermore, they help search engines understand your website’s structure, which benefits SEO.

To implement breadcrumbs, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your website’s structure. Breadcrumb trails are linear, meaning they follow a single path of categories and subcategories. This limits the number of categories you can include in the breadcrumb navigation. Thus, consider breadcrumbs as a complementary navigation tool, designed to enhance the primary navigation system rather than replace it.

Additional Features to Include in Your Ecommerce Navigation — Breadcrumbs

Footer Links

The footer menu is an important part of ecommerce navigation as it consists of essential links and categories. Typically, when users navigate to the footer menu, they are seeking information about the company or accessing other links related to products or services. Therefore, a well-structured and consistent footer is paramount for enhancing brand awareness and providing seamless navigation.

Key Elements of a Strong Footer Menu:

  • Company Information links like “About Us” and “Careers” should be included in the footer menu to establish your brand and provide contact details.
  • Customer Support links like “FAQs”, “Help Center”, and “Contact Information” guarantee that users can quickly locate support when they need it.
  • Links to Marketing & Social Media icons provide access to your social media profiles while encouraging engagement and interaction.
  • Policies & Trust Builders links to “Terms of Service”, “Privacy Policy”, and “Shipping & Returns” information provide transparency and build trust with customers
Additional Features to Include in Your Ecommerce Navigation — Footer Links

Product Labels

While product labels aren’t considered traditional navigation elements, they significantly help users browse through products. Among most used product label examples that speed up navigation and encourage purchases, we can highlight “Bestsellers”, “New”, “Free Shipping”, “Limited edition”, “Organic”, and other product attributes.

At the same time, product labels are used to draw customer attention to special offers and promotions. Labels, such as “Sale” or “Hot Deal”, are prominently displayed on the category page product images. They highlight items and inform shoppers about current promotions or the status of the product, which is really helpful for creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity.

For instance, Asos effectively locates product labels to prompt visitors to make purchases by highlighting special offers or new arrivals. This feature enhances product discovery on the website and, at that time, significantly improves customer experience and sales.

Additional Features to Include in Your Ecommerce Navigation — Product Labels

Combining Menu Types for Optimal User Experience and SEO

It is important to understand your website’s size and needs. For instance, small websites benefit from simple navigation, with categories that are readily visible and accessible. One of the most familiar and suitable menus for such businesses is a horizontal bar that keeps things clear and familiar for visitors.

On the other hand, mega menus, vertical menus, and hamburger menus are helpful for larger websites with plenty of product categories or content. These ecommerce navigation menus organize complex structures and help users find what they need.

The sticky menu is universal navigation, which optimizes the user experience for any website. It keeps essential categories and calls to action (CTAs) visible no matter where the user scrolls.

Often, combining a well-placed hamburger menu with a vertical navigation bar can be an effective strategy for improving a website’s user experience (UX). So, to reach the website’s full potential, carefully combine navigation types. Having well-organized and uncluttered navigation can significantly boost your website’s usability and effectiveness.