This is the second installment in the Marrying Content and Commerce series. In our previous post, we discussed Segmentation and Personas. We recommend starting here to ensure you understand who your customers are to drive your project planning.

Site structure and flow

As more enterprises invest in modern, robust e-commerce strategies, the importance of the user experience continues to grow. Today, enterprises need to be strategic about the look and feel of the user experience in order to remain competitive. 

Taking inventory of the capabilities and content you want in your site is important to get everyone oriented in both the scale and the accommodations in the design and implementation of your frontend.  You may be eager to start immediately on page designs, but going through this collaborative process is important to scope what you need to design for.

Benefits of planning your site structure and navigation:

  • Inform the design of how users navigate your frontend
  • Develop an understanding of who will own what in the site for content and implementation
  • Analyzing how many steps in the path to purchase or content depending on your personas
  • Optimize navigation for usability in common, commerce tasks or value adds you offer online

Sample page inventory

There are many different ways that a commerce experience can be structured, which should be dictated by your commerce and content needs. Below is an inventory of pages you may want to plan out in your project to cover these needs. With today’s technology, the concept of a page may be blurred where the checkout process may include shipping and payment into one page.  This inventory is just to help make sure your basis is covered.

Validating your site structure

There are two ways to validate current assumptions on the inventory of content relative to navigation:

  1. Analyze current traffic patterns for your commerce and content assets in Google Analytics or similar click tracking tools.  Specifically, zeroing in on SEO or organic traffic referrals (what are customers searching for) and then more transactional, once someone is on your site, where are they going next?  An example might be that 35% of your visitors are checking order status as their first navigation step, or you find that only 5% of users click on the marketing content you put on the homepage today.
  2. Card-sort exercises as a way to crowd-source input from stakeholders on how to organize and optimize your taxonomy and navigation strategy.  The Nielsen-Norman group has a good write-up on how to approach this along with some good visuals of the process in this article.  For complex businesses with many stakeholders or customer bases, running this methodology as ‘homework’ to gather input is much more effective than forcing a debate in meetings.

A second, related step is to take your proposed navigation concepts and map them to your segmentation and persona documentation. Conduct pressure tests on the customer journey, which may be more elaborate for B2B buyers than B2C buyers. Figure out how many steps are necessary to both onboard a new customer and optimize the path to purchase for repeat buyers. 

Remember in the world of SEO and organic referrals, you don’t just have one home page, every page of your site is an entry point, including commerce category pages, a news article, or a product detail page as potential customers' first step into the buyer journey.

Getting inspiration

Don’t be afraid to refer to other websites for inspiration. The way Amazon handles order status versus account information is different than Target.com.

Having a notion of the breadth of content and how you want your users to navigate your site will inform how you configure your content management and overall frontend experience — both in how you end up designing the experience and how you might set up the headless content management system to optimize and relate information together.

Headless, API-first platforms enable complex businesses to create custom user experiences. Read more about the Sitecore® OrderCloud® platform and architecture in the feature guide.