In this lesson, you will learn about:
- Category best practices
- Where to manage your product categories in the control panel
- How to create a category
- How to move your categories to be sub-categories or parent categories
- Adjusting category navigation display depth and breadcrumb display

How well your website navigates is critical to customer satisfaction. If your online store is disorganized or overwhelming you’re going to hinder the success of your business.
Potential shoppers are going to turn around and take their money elsewhere.
Although Bigcommerce has already set you up with some well design themes, we’re going to hone in on category navigation and throw in some quick tips for your website over all.
First, don’t overwhelm customers with too many categories at the top of your storefront. You don’t want shoppers to have to scroll like crazy. In fact, they just won’t do it.
Now, if you’re thinking, “I have far too many product categories for what this lady is recommending,” consider selecting a design theme with left-hand category navigation.
Statistically, this converts better than having multiple rows of categories across the top of your store. For one, it will feel cleaner to potential shoppers AND you won’t be pushing important content “below the fold.” “Below the fold” simply refers to anything that does not show when you land on a website. It’s all the stuff below that you must to scroll to get to. Always work to try to keep important information like categories, imagery, calls to action and so on “above the fold” so shoppers find what’s most important and take the actions you want for them to take.
But there is a balance between usability and cramming every last detail on the page.
So, just keep it clean and simple. Try not to go bananas and include everything above the fold.
So, short story very long, your goal should be to ensure overall navigation is easy.
This starts with simple, top level categorization that makes sense and contains logical sub-categories to ensure your store stays nice and tidy. Always keep-it-simple!
Since you’ve already got a great design theme. Let’s begin by creating some product categories and I’ll show you those tips and tricks along the way.
Inside of your store’s control panel you can manage your categories under Products > Product Categories. First thing to do is remove the sample categories that have been provided for you. We don’t want any strays lying around that are not relevant to your business. Now, you may simply select “create a category.” Give your category a simple and straightforward name so when potential customers arrive they can figure out where to go. The category URL will auto-populate for you (and yes, this is search engine friendly).
Next, provide a description. Although not every design theme will make this description visible to your customers, it will help your SEO which we’ll talk about later on in BCU.
Now, in this description, tell your customers what it is you offer within this category.
You may highlight the benefits, features, brands and more - all the things that will be relevant to your potential customers. If you would like to edit the look and feel of the text, you may do so by using the WYSIWYG editor. You’ll be able to highlight the text you would like to alter and then hover over any icon to discover what it can accomplish for you. You can change the font, colors, drop in an image or video, and so much more!
Oh, and don’t forget to check out the HTML source editor if you happen to prefer that
method of editing.
If you wanted this category to show on your main storefront navigation, go ahead and save. If you wanted it as a sub-category you can select the main, parent category you would like to tuck this under, right here, and then save. Now, we’ve gone ahead and added a few categories to show you what this area will look like -- plus we wanted to share that you may re-arrange your categories here as well. Grab any of your categories and re-arrange their sort order on your storefront. Additionally, you can adjust the subcategory settings by dragging to the right or left and tucking them under a parent or main category. These changes occur so quickly that by the time you refresh the front end of your store, the changes will have already taken place. Pretty cool, right?
Now, a few little tip for you. If you’re noticing that some of your deeper sub-categories are not showing, go into “Settings” > “Store Settings.” Select display and scroll for “Category Settings.” Here you will be able to adjust your menu display depth to whatever you’d like. Again, just be mindful you don’t have too many levels in your category navigation as it gets challenging for a shopper to maneuver their way to the product or service they’re interested in purchasing.
Ok, bonus time since we’re already in “Store Settings.” Here under “Display Settings” you’ll find “Product Breadcrumbs.” This refers to those little navigation nuggets that can really help shoppers understand where they heck they went in your store while shopping so they can get back easily. We recommend setting this to “Show One” when you are starting out but depending on your design theme, industry, and so on you’re free to make adjustments later on! Ok, we’ll show you even more tricks to help your store’s conversion rate in later sections.
For now, remember that no matter what decision you are making, always think about your potential customers. It’s not always about what looks best to you, your website decisions should always be about reducing as much friction and obstacles as possible to help shoppers find what they need and get to that checkout page and make a purchase. As you’re polishing up your store for your specific business needs, it’s a great idea to send your site to your friends and family and send them on a scavenger hunt throughout your store. See if it is simple or difficult for them to find the product they need. Once you launch your business, pay special attention to your store analytics as metrics will help you identify areas for storefront improvements. You’re also going to learn more about what your target audience likes, and doesn’t like as time goes on.
After all, making improvements to your website will be a continuous process.