The Humble Product Listing
This blog post is just a congealment of my thoughts on product listing pages. These pages are the ones you often find on online stores where a number of products are available and they do what they say on the tin, they provide a list of products.
I was playing around with layouts for a client who sells beauty products a few days ago and this got me thinking about how i could optimize the list for their products.
The clients store is built on top of my own store system (called txp store) which i built with a couple of templates controlling how products are displayed. The general thought behind the pages was based on how many items i had to display, with one layout showing 5 or 6 products per page, and the other showing more than 20!
This is a factor which all the online stores i have built so far have had to deal with; the balance between the space given to each product and keeping the listing pages short and easy to use.
With making the best use of the space in mind i started to think about how i could optimize the layout. The layouts all consisted of broadly the same information, product name, price and description for example. If i was going to effectively display a larger number of products per page i needed to figure out the order of importance for this information.
This order of importance was dependent on the products in question and i came up with the following rough rules.
Images: For some products (eg; jewelry) , the most important piece of information was the image of the product, as this was vital to the selection process. For pages listing these products the image (or images) were everything, with the user making the choice on which products to investigate based on how the product looked. For products like this designs which give the products large images and plenty of space seemed like the ideal solution. Was pretty obvious really..
Description: For other products it seemed that the description was king. For example a store selling mountain bike parts. On this type of store the user is looking for a certain part to fit a certain requirement so the description (containing a specification summery) was vital. Price was still a factor but it was a secondary factor served on finding the correct product. A hint that the description is most important is when the client starts giving products huge titles containing a summery of the products spec.
Price: Some online stores are set up around being the cheapest for certain products. For this type of store price is everything, sometimes even to the exclusion of the actual product! Users are encouraged to browse and find something for the fantastic price they are being offered. A good example of this is online DVD sellers who have £5 sections which they promote heavily via email.
So what do you think? are these thoughts completely off or are they just something which is obvious? please let me know in the comments.