Retail Website Design – The Perfect Product Category Listing Page

Recommended best practices for Product Listing Pages

This is the third in my series of posts to share best practices on design and user experience for retail sites. My post aims to give you some tips to consider for testing improvements and designing your Product Listing Page (PLP).  For each site page template type I have created a wireframe summary of a typical responsive site layout for desktop or tablet rendering showing key design elements, to give you a toolkit to review and optimize your pages.

If you work in design or merchandising for a retailer, or are involved in design at an agency for retail client’s accounts, then I hope these templates and tips will help you along the design/re-evaluation process to maximise results from your pages.

For retail sites, PLP pages sit within the category hierarchy and provide a list of all products available within a chosen category. For large catalogue retailers, these are usually found at a secondary or tertiary level e.g.Home & Garden > Garden > Garden Furniture.

In terms of the whole customer journey they are important mid-tail conversion pages, to showcase specific product sets and use navigation tools to help the visitor quickly find the most relevant product.

Key elements of a retail Product Listing Design Page

The key design elements of a Product Listing Page are summarised in this wireframe

Product Listing page recommendations

You can use this template as a good practice framework to understand the key elements for an effective Product Listing Page. UX/UI design patterns can vary according to your site and depend on the extent each component is used (ie. by content, location on the page, scrolling done and across the page)

For example, some retailers actually use the PLP template for their main category page (ie Net a Porter) instead of using hub pages with PLPs for each sub-category.

Please note that site-wide components such as the mega menu are covered in my first post in this series on Retail site  Home Pages.

A Case Study - Net a Porter

The site adopts a very simple page template, with a long list of products with basic navigation tools like faceted navigation and sorting tools. For a high-end brand, it’s really surprising not to see promotional content such as featured brands and newest additions. It’s not sensible to judge the page design qualities without having an understanding of the data behind it. Perhaps the ecommerce team has tested different version and found that its customers like a simple PLP format to browse all products.

Net a Porter Product Listing Page

Key requirements checklist for your Product listing Page

Here's a checklist of the details that I've found are involved in the discussion of improving this type of page:

  • 1. Have we defined and understood the goals of our PL Page?
  • 2. Which of our core visitor types/personas will visit this page?
  • 3. Do we know why they visit?
  • 4. What is the primary CTA for our page?
  • 5. Have we defined the core content components to enable our goals/satisfy key persona needs?
  • 6. Have we defined our web analytics requirement?
  • 7. Have we defined on-page SEO requirements?
  • 8. Have we defined personalisation requirements?
  • 9. Have we defined the navigational requirements?
  • 10.'Do we make it easy to refine the product view and drill down into specific product types?
  • 11. Do we use persuasion techniques to influence visitors?
  • 12. Are we showcasing our key brand ranges?
  • 13. Is the site search bar clear and easy to use to help users who want to find something specific?
  • 14. Are we promoting our current marketing campaigns and current offers?
  • 15. Do we provide relevant content to help visitors?
  • 16. (multi-channel only) Is it easy to find our local stores?
  • 17. (international only) Is it easy for users to select the store/currency for their local country?
  • 18. Are we using site-wide links to help people find key information like delivery and returns?

Additional requirements to consider in your Product Listing Page

In the full guide for Smart Insights members I go into much more detail on individual page elements on desktop and smartphone and look at more examples of how these apply in practice from UK and US-based ecommerce sites.

 



Share your thoughts

  • Paw H commented on July 19, 2016

    Great article, just what is was looking for 😉

  • Very useful tips, but better add some clear CTA placement for beginner, ex: CTA button on illustration image.

    Thanks

  • Hi Adrian,
    Thanks for the comment and great question.Yes this is backed up by data – data that we’ve seen from various retail sites over many years. However, it’s important to realise that this template provides a blueprint for the various components that make up a PLP, based on best practice learning. What it’s not saying is that the layout should be followed by every web manager to the letter, we explain that in the guide. Each retailer has a subtle variation on layout and those that optimise intelligently make the UX decisions based on data and testing.
    The blueprint we provide is intended to give people a sensible baseline to understand the components of a retail ecommerce page.
    To answer your question, a promotion zone is really important and i’m basing this on experience. For example, when retailers run marketing campaigns, it’s important the replicate the promotion offer (and ideally creative) on the landing page to provide continuity. I’ve seen this uplift click through and conversion. The promotion needs to be at the top of the page, otherwise you reduce the number of people who see it. This is based on scroll map analysis i’ve done in the past.
    Re the product order, many retailers use merchandising tools like Fredhopper to optimise the product display based on business rules and/or customer browsing patterns. There is no ‘right’ answer to this ordering, it is something that needs to be optimised over time as the learning from the site increases. I’ve seen sites where the promoted products (e.g. Hot trends / Editor picks) outperform organic and vice-versa.
    I hope this helps answer your question.
    Thanks
    james

  • Hi,

    How did you get to this specific template? What data do you have to support it?
    I’ve seen quite a bit of websites with a similar layout, true, but that doesn’t make the approach good or desirable. Just popular.
    For instance, why keep the Promotion Zone above the Product Listing? Why not show some organicly filtered products, then sponsored products, then organics again? It would be in the customer’s best interest and I expect it to decrease the chances of Ad-Blindness users have on the web.

    Thanks!

    Adrian

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