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Consider product detail pages of which some rank pretty good on long-tail keywords. However, some testing has shown that visitors often 'leak' to more general pages through the main navigation.

After all that's the first thing they see and might wonder what the site is all about, and in the process drift away from the main task, which of course to us is converting.

From a 'conversion optimization' standpoint I'm thinking of providing a slimmed down version of the main navigation, to prevent users from 'leaking'.

Home | Products (highlighted)| More>

Instead of:

Home | Cat A | Cat B | Products (highlighted)| Cat C| Cat D| ..| More>

EDIT: All original main-nav items are still available under More>. The main-nav is just far less prominent (but still in the usual place, etc.)

After all, the users have been very specific on google, etc. to directly find one particular product, why let them escape when they're already so deep into the funnel? Good for all.

However, these product-detail pages can be reached from the normal in-site (master-detail) flow as well. In this situation I don't want the slimmed-down version of the main nav, but want to keep the expanded/ original one.

The idea: Based on Referrer:

  • Off-site or direct > slimmed down main nav
  • on-site > normal main nav

This will be controlled server-side

Would you think this is a good idea? Any obstacles, from UX, SEO, etc. that I'm overlooking? (this won't be counted as cloaked content by google, etc. I'm sure)

EDIT: Forgot to mention: in the 'landing-page' case, I'm thinking of additional to the above to:

  • make the website-logo smaller and move it to the right
  • remove the utility-nav at the top (login, my prefs, etc.)
  • move the slimmed-down version of the main-nav up (in space that has become vacant
  • ability to decrease header size as a result.

    thoughts?

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sounds reasonable to me... –  Assaf Lavie Oct 19 '11 at 20:47
1  
Asking 'why let a user escape?' in the context of UX seems a bit silly. This is really a sales question more than anything. ;) That said, the navigation may very well do a lot of good...it provides context for the user who just landed here. It's signage. Maybe leaving the page to explore the site a bit is what will actually allow them to feel comfortable enough to come back and be converted. I think it's dangerous to assume the navigation is simply a bad thing without a lot more research and testing. –  DA01 Oct 19 '11 at 21:13
    
Well I try to approach it holisticly :). Anyway, you're right that the reasoning is largely based on assumption that the user is already well into the funnel, and hence doesn't need to be confronted with choice that's distracting. However, the main-nav isn't gone, it's just less prominent. I.e .all main-nav items can still be found under More>. I'll emphasize that in my question. Thanks. –  Geert-Jan Oct 19 '11 at 21:17

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Well, you will be hiding all these other categories from the users, so they may never know that they exist. If it's informational pages, I can understand the sacrifice, but if it's other product categories, then maybe in the long run it's in your best interest to display them, even at the cost of some users escaping.

If you're right in your assumption that they'd been very specific on google because they know exactly what they want, then I'd expect them to come back and finish the purchase even after browsing around the site for a bit. The fact that they don't (I suppose you've looked at that) suggests to me that maybe they aren't that bent on the product after all. Now in this case you might benefit from further exposing your site to them, or take your chances with the reduced navigation.

Reduced navigation is commonplace in the checkout process itself, but much less so on pages in the main hierarchy.

One more thing to consider: you will be harming the consistency of your website. A person sending a link to a product page to their friends, or sharing it via social media, and a person following that link, won't see the same navigation. Even a person who'd saved the link in their bookmarks or email or whatever won't see the same menu as the first time. They won't necessarily notice, but it's bad practice.

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The other categories are indeed primarily informational pages. It's not so much that these categories are hidden from the the user, they are still available under the More > category. I agree with your observation that it would harm consistency when bookmarking/sharing/linking, etc. An inbetween version could only target search-engine referrers with the slimmed-down version perhaps. It makes a great A/B-test I guess. Thanks –  Geert-Jan Oct 19 '11 at 21:31

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