My friends and I have recently launched Midtown Row, an online marketplace focused on acclaimed specialty brands. We want to make sure navigating the site is easy for our users, and that we're also communicating the most critical information up front.
Currently, we've organized the navigation on the following logic -> a selection of products, detailed info on a single product, then opportunities to get more information about the brand. This is more of a "traditional" structure for an ecommerce site (e.g., balance sales and conversions from page to page). One of the challenges with specialty brands is that they're often new to users, even if they're highly, highly acclaimed.
Thus, we're wondering would users prefer to flip it around --> a selection of brands (with similar representative product pictures), detailed information on the brand (e.g., reviews, history, owners), and then the opportunity to explore products?
Would really appreciate getting your guys' thoughts! Thanks
Short answer - ask your users. In the end it is all about making your users happy. Don't try to guess what they want.
My assumption is that you are using some sort of CMS and that the products are individual element and that the navigation is the sorting and presentation of those elements based on assigned variables.
If that is the case: why choose between the two? Can't you do both?
And if you can't do both on the same site -- then run two versions and A/B test the results.
I personal prefer the product base, because when i shop online I am looking for a product. I normally don't care about brand. But it sounds as though your target market is very brand conscious and therefor it might make a lot of sense. It seems like a lot of time and conversation could be wasted trying to figure it out -- when the only people who can answer it are you customers.
Or. . . your competitors. When I was trying to facilitate the structuring of the online store for a client that had grown organically and was trying to "jump" into the big leagues I went and visited the websites of all of the top competitors he imagined himself competing with. Ironically they all had the same basic structure for their sites. So -- we copied that basic structure. Immediately customers started complementing us on how easy it was to use our site. Why? Because it wasn't new-- they felt comfortable there because they had -- at the last three sites they had visited!