There are a host of factors to take into consideration when designing the header for your eCommerce website. Like all web pages, the header plays a critical role in the way that users navigate, perceive, and interact with your page.
In the world of eCommerce, it is especially important to consider the utilitarian nature of the humble header. A good place to start is by asking yourself what does my header need to do, beyond providing the traditional navigation bar?
We’ve compiled a list of features that can be especially helpful for eCommerce site owners, broken down by category:
- Special Features
- Standard Features
Help / Customer Service
Where but in the world of eCommerce, can you place as much emphasis on customer service? Wherever there are people spending money, there will be people in need of help. No system is without its flaws, and as such, there ought to be a robust system for resolving any issues.
In terms of page placement, perhaps the most intuitive location for the help section is in the header. Think about it: you want your customers to be able to find what they need irrespective of what page they are on.
In fact, the header is the only element, with the exception of the footer, to provide an agnostic location for the customer service section.
Another important feature to consider when exploring the utilitarian nature of the header, is order tracking. Order tracking is a fundamental feature among eCommerce pages, as it allows the user to rest assured that their purchase has been received, and how far along in the shipping process it may be.
In some cases, an eCommerce page may merely be an extension of a brick and mortar location (or chain), the Store Finder can be a particularly powerful feature. Store Finder allows the user to locate brick and mortar locations within a certain radius of their location.
Language / Country Switcher
In cases where the user base for an eCommerce page is international, it would be wise to offer your users with a country / language switcher. The Language Switcher function adds a substantial amount of usefulness to your page, as it makes the process of buying something on your page less dependent on the fluency of the user.
Promotions are informational messages on semi-permanent display on an eCommerce page, informing user of various deals going on, such as “free shipping on __”, or “buy one get one free ___”. Promotions are excellent conversion funnels, as they invite users to view, and perhaps purchase, the items that are on promotional display.
Navigation is the backbone of the header section, providing the standard functionality that users require when they visit any page (the exception being single page apps). Navigation does not necessarily have to be put in the header, but that is the traditional location.
User Accounts are extremely important for an eCommerce page, as they give the user an opportunity to view previous orders, and keep track of preferences. While not necessarily a fundamental feature, user accounts adds some much needed long-term security for the user.
Conclusion: Plan Your Header for Maximum Utilitarianism
Keeping your header as useful as possible is in your best interests. While you may be able to get away with a bland header that adds little to the experience of purchasing items on your eCommerce site, your users are not as likely to get the most out of our site.
By adding a number of utilitarian features to your header, you can provide your users with easy access to help, tracking, and promotional information, among other things, which can aide in the experience of using your page—the idea is to keep your customers happy.