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Lets say you have an index page where you list all your products. When it comes to showing details of a product I have seen some interesting variations.

Housing.com shows details(e.g, this link) on the listings/index page while Airbnb shows details of a house on a separate page(e.g, this link).

I have heard the argument that a separate details page is not advisable because the user has to go back and select another product to see details and keep doing this. Which can countered by adding a cross-sell to similar products. How valid is it?

The flip side argument for showing details on the same list page in some component(a modal or a sliding container etc) is that is maintains context, allows the user to quickly switch products to view details. While the counter to that is it restricts the size that you have to fit everything. And even though you might be able to cramp all data somehow - a separate page has its own credibility and feels like it has a lot to offer which its counterpart will not. Any thoughts?

I am interested to know if there is any pattern users follow in viewing details of products. In what cases it is linear(next-previous) or random or something else?

I would like to find out some online research or case study or anything related to this?

If I only consider a domain, lets say Houses/Real estate, which one makes more sense?

What difference does it make? Pros and cons of each?

  • whichever you choose, don't forget that some people open links on new tabs.. – Aprillion Apr 17 '16 at 19:13
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It never hurts to show a selection of relevant information on the listing page, information that is appropriate when users are comparing between options.

A single product page makes good sense for SEO and for link sharing, however you can still have a combination of unique product pages but also the ability for a product view modal on the listing page (as mentioned in your question). Technically speaking you can have a individual details page, and then inject that content into a modal, so that you get the best of both worlds.

As for user patterns of behaviour, in usability testing I have observed both:

  1. Users who go back and forth between products, returning to the listing page each time

  2. Users who open a bunch of products from the listing page using 'open in a new tab' functionality.

I have a hypothesis that more advanced users will lean towards the second, but I haven't undertaken any research to confirm that.

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Here is one use case to consider

We have a app where we load the link page in a separate window. This is so current list view is still visible and the user can continue to monitor the list while researching the details page separately. This helps with multi tasking. Also the state of the list is not lost. Say you are scrolled down in the list. Of course I have worked on app where we restore the list scroll state on going back from detail to list view.

If the data is static however you could consider to open the detail page in same view

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I would think about it on the basis of conversions (i.e. as a landing page).

In the case of the Housing.com link the information could be considered by some to be, as you say, cramped and more difficult to digest effectively.

In the case of AirBnB it feels more like a dedicated landing page in order to attempt to convert as many visitors as possible. There is a school of thought that dedicated landing pages are required for advertising, and companies like UnBounce have become successful by allowing their clients to design landing pages for products. From the end-user's point of view clicking the "back" button might be annoying, however, it is useful for a business to be able to track conversions from specific properties, and that may be easier for them with specific URLs on each product (if you notice, when clicking on properties on housing.com the URL doesn't change). If pressing the back button meant the user would have to input their search data again, it might cause drop-offs as that would become tedious. As Nagwani says, this can be combatted slightly by opening listings in new tabs. You could, in theory, use local session storage to hold the search input information so that when the back button is pressed the data is re-submitted in some way (I'm not sure how you would be able to go about this you would have to speak to an engineer, but I assume, based on my limited JavaScript knowledge, that it would be possible).

You talked about cross-selling, which naturally coincides with up-selling, and this is something that e-commerce websites do very well. To, partially, answer you question regarding this point Amazon, in 2006, reported that 35% of its revenues were from cross sales and up-selling. In the car of housing.com and AirBnB it might not be something that is particularly easy to do, as property sales and places to stay are a bit more subjective that buying items, as personal taste plays more of a role in the selection process. Though if you're talking about e-commerce, and physical product sales, cross-selling and up-selling has been shown to have a positive effect.

As another suggestion, you could have a "modal" window open up to show details for specific products that can then be closed. Tracking this information may have to be done by using an iframe to hold the information and therefore track that "URL's" stats etc. or it could be tracked by creating events. This would stop the list being refreshed, as well as showing the user all the required information without opening a new tab or losing their ability to quickly revert back to the list without the page being reloaded.

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