Does your business’s online store feature multiple categories of products? Whether it’s a dozen categories or 100, you should differentiate them with the right web design elements. Using the same cookie-cutter design for all categories won’t work. If they all feature the same color and layout, visitors won’t be able to easily find and click the category for which they are looking.

Use a Hierarchy With Parent Categories and Subcategories

When designing your online store, use a hierarchy that consists of upper-level “parent” categories and lower-level “subcategories.” This format allows visitors to easily browse your store to find relevant products. And with a hierarchy, you can create a cleaner homepage by only displaying the parent categories. With that said, you should make sure your store’s parent categories are clickable and direct visitors to the appropriate category of products. According to a study conducted by Baymard Institute, online shoppers often try to click parent categories, only to discover that they are merely labels and not functional links.

Mix Up the Colors

You can differentiate your store’s product categories by designing them in different colors. Rather than designing all product categories with the same color scheme, use a different color scheme for each category. Alternatively, you can use an alternating color scheme that consists of two contrasting colors. Both methods will make your store’s product categories stand out, thereby attracting more clicks from visitors.

Add Alt Text to Category Images

When using images as product categories, don’t forget to add the alt text attribute. This attribute is displayed in a visitor’s web browser when he or she hovers their mouse over the image. Furthermore, search engines look at this information to determine how and where to rank websites.

Use Relevant Images

In addition to alt text, you should also use relevant images that accurately reflect the respective product category. If your store sells sports equipment, for example, you may want to use a picture of a bike for a “cycling” category and a picture of a baseball bat for a “baseball” category.

Sort Alphabetically

Some e-commerce store owners assume that sorting their product categories by popularity will drive the most sales. This can backfire, however, by diluting your site’s user experience. If your store has lots of product categories, visitors may struggle to find a specific category if they are sorted by popularity. A more user-friendly approach is to sort product categories alphabetically. You can still include a separate menu for the most popular categories, but your site’s primary navigation should feature alphabetically sorted product categories.