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Put A Label On It: Navigation As Brand--IA Summit 2018



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Six months ago at our company if you had asked anyone a question about our main navigation, they would have replied, “The navigation doesn’t matter. Users only search.” Navigation was such a low priority we didn’t even keep good statistics on how it led to purchases or if buyers used it. As a result of how people felt about it, our navigation was static for 3 years, which might as well be a decade online, especially for a brand known for trends & quirky style. No one felt ownership of the navigation aside from the taxonomy team who lacked the engineering resources or product manager to take on any changes to it. Regardless of all that, our navigation was generally well regarded by outside research firms and was held up as a best practice example by many in our industry. But we knew it wasn’t what it could be...

That was all until the SEO team identified the navigation as a major contributor to our SEO bad practice. At this point an information architect and a taxonomist were asked to eliminate 50% of the links on the navigation and given carte blanche on how to do that.

We are that information architect and that taxonomist and this talk is our story of not only how we took on that project but also how we managed to make the navigation matter in the process.

Along the way we assembled stakeholders who we thought had useful information & a “stake” in the navigation and used qualitative and quantitative data to make them realize that the navigation is actually one of the most powerful tools they have when communicating our brand to our users.

Some topics and lessons we want to cover include:

How to design for users while optimizing for machines.
How to provide access to a broad and unique assortment without an overwhelming navigation system
How to decide if less is more.
How to use qualitative and quantitative data to make people care about your project.
How to serve a two sided marketplace without alienating suppliers with our brand choices.
How to introduce our brand to first time users while providing access and structure to our dedicated customers.
How to balance displaying a broad assortment while still being mobile first.
How to make sure your navigation conveys your brand across many cultures and languages
How to balance what executives think the brand is versus what people actually buy on the site.

This talk was given at Information Architecture Summit in Chicago on March 24, 2018.

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Put A Label On It: Navigation As Brand--IA Summit 2018

  1. 1. IA Summit 2018 | Jenny Benevento & Abby Covert Put a label on it! Navigation as brand
  2. 2. Jenny Abby
  3. 3. A Brief History of Browsing at Etsy 2005… the beginning!
  4. 4. 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
  5. 5. 2006 2008 20092007 2010
  6. 6. 2011 2012 Early 2014 2013
  7. 7. Late 2014 2015
  8. 8. Purposes of Navigation ● Explain brand ● Market features ● Provide access to administrative tools ● Display the taxonomy ● Advertise products & sales ● Surface thematic or seasonal sections ● Orient users throughout their journey ● Get users to products ● Inform search engines ● Inspire users 2014 2005
  9. 9. Wayfair Casestudy:
  10. 10. We had 692 Internal Facing Links… ON EVERY PAGE
  11. 11. Round 1: Reduce the Footer by 50%
  12. 12. Data! Data! Data!
  13. 13. Set Completion
  14. 14. Seasonality
  15. 15. “If I am murdered, blame a dollmaker.” - @jennybento
  16. 16. - A prospective buyer exploring the navigation Everyone at Etsy “It seems like more of a mass department store because of all the choices that are there... it reminds me of JC Penney because they also have clothing, furniture, home decor…”
  17. 17. Things you never hear at your job that we hear all the time: “Is there any way we can downplay nipple jewelry a bit more.” - an executive
  18. 18. Etsyness
  19. 19. Bringing in Design & Engineering
  21. 21. Getting it Online
  22. 22. Remoteness Works
  23. 23. So Many Tabs
  24. 24. ...despair
  25. 25. Experimentation
  26. 26. Watching it over time Nav Launched 100% across desktop and mobile
  27. 27. Tradeoffs & Balance Onsite customer (UX) Statistics Our teams goals Vertical Taxonomy Offsite customer (SEO) Etsyness/branding Other teams Vertical Marketing
  28. 28. “What if sales tank in categories removed from the navigation!?!” “Categories removed from the navigation continue to grow due to more search engine strength!” Perception Reality
  29. 29. 5 Lessons Learned
  30. 30. Lesson 2 “When something touches every part of the product, everyone will care about it in theory and no one will care about it in practice”
  31. 31. Lesson 1 “When something starts as a project, it will need other projects to maintain it”
  32. 32. Lesson 4 “Short term neutrality is a good goal for longer term efforts to be deemed safe”
  33. 33. Lesson 3 “Brand decisions shouldn’t be made by your audience”
  34. 34. Lesson 5 “You can get a lot of work done under the guise of someone else’s objectives”
  35. 35. Thanks! @Jennybento @Abby_the_IA