Day 58 of #100daysmarketingcreatives - The Rule Of 7 And How To Organise Your Online Shop
Many of the things I learnt in my Applied Computing Degree many years back where often obsolete in this fast moving world of technology before the ink had dried on my qualification certificate. One thing I was taught all those years ago and is still as relevant today is it was then is that you should employ the golden rule of 7 when designing any computer interface. So what it that rule? Well I am glad you asked otherwise this would be a rather short post today! The rule has it's links in psychology and the optimum number of things that most individuals can retain in their short term memory at any one time.
Try it yourself. Write down 3 numbers then tell someone and ask them to tell you the numbers back. Then try 4 numbers. Then 5 and so on. What you will find is that most people can remember around 7. Some may remember more and some less but for the majority of us it is around 7. Whenever you design a computer interface, therefore, you should design it with that figure in mind. Limit menu options to 7. If you need more consider a submenu off the top level menu and again limit that to 7 before adding a further submenu. Wherever you offer choices try to limit them to 7 and break out to another submenu or another page to offer more choices.
If you keep this in mind designing your website then it will make it easier to use for people. They will not have forgotten the 1st option by the time they have read the 9th or 10th option. They will not be overwhelmed by choice but will find it a much easier task to work through your site and products even if you have hundreds of them. If you do have hundreds of them don't just list them consecutively, find ways of grouping them. What characteristics do they share? Consider grouping them on wider characteristics first e.g. Originals, Prints, Cards, Accessories. Then within each of those broader categories maybe consider grouping by subject matter or media.
Once you get down to product level you may have more than 7 products in a group. Hide these from the menu at this point to avoid clutter but instead show them on screen perhaps as thumbnail previews that way you can break the rule of 7 as people are not having to remember anything as they can see everything together at one time but even then try to keep to manageable numbers so as not to overwhelm. Grouping also helps people to quickly home in on what they are interested in and avoid things that they are not making looking through your website a much easier and pleasurable experience.
When designing your web shop interface you should also try to design it both with word driven menu options as well as image based buttons. Some visitors will be drawn to the word based menus and others will be drawn to the image based buttons and some will alternate between the two. Using both will make your web shop both easy to use and appealing to a much wider audience.
The examples above are taken from a website I am designing for Garry Lomas, a talented landscape photographer here in the Peak District. The new website will be going live within a week or so so do have a look when it does.
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How do you categorise your products?