Refinements are an important part of navigation, as they help narrow a broad category so visitors get to items they’re looking for more quickly – and also help them get to particular items to suit their needs such as size, brand, style, or price faster. There is no shortage of options for how to present navigation refinements, which means some retailers offer too many choices or they present refinements in a way that confuses the visitors. Below are a couple of tips to guide you in this area. You can find a whole slew of refinement tips by downloading the complete “Big Book of Navigation Tips,” now available from our website.

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1. Consider using sliders for continuous refinements Test the placement of refinements – Using sliders for refinements like price or size range take up less space and are a nice tool to use along with AJAX to build smooth transitions from one information display to the next. Some visitors may find them more complicated than the alternatives – links or drop downs with fixed ranges, or text boxes allowing you to specify an upper and lower limit. So test and make sure your visitors do understand how they work and consider offering alternatives. Make sure your sliders work well on a touch screen device, and if they don’t you can  provide alternative way of displaying them.

2. Make sure navigational images can’t be confused as products – Navigation usability tests were conducted by showing participants a retail site with three product subcategories represented by an image and the associated text description. Many participants misunderstood that  the images were representations and took them to be three product images and assumed there were only three products. You should try to avoid these types of misunderstandings as much as possible. You can minimize confusion on navigation pages by showing products as well as subcategories. You can show other cues that will help differentiate between subcategories and products – such as showing the number of results they’ll see if they click on the subcategory images, label the subcategory images clearly and make sure there’s a clear distinction between the layout of your products and subcategories.