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Discussion Starter #1
Is it just me? Or am I noticing a few tshirt online stores with no categories listed and just a one array page of tshirt product?

Its interesting though, I think tshirt online store design is fundamentally different from some other sites, and I hate to refer to this but take a certain major online book store... their category listings are clearly marked on the left hand side.

So I guess a few things come to mind when designing my own tshirt online store..

1. Just how many categories of tshirt can you have? eg Humour, Political, Sport etc [depends on the niche market your catering to]

2. If so I wonder how differently and more interestingly it could be listed on a website.. the smart thing is to list it on the homepage, and have the categories accessable from any webpage the customer goes to on your website, and where on the page to put them? On the top vertically and very bottom? Down the left hand side, down the right.. so many ways

3. It also depends just how many designs of tshirts you have, I assume those who could print-on-demand could list a heck of a lot more than someone who prints up the stock before hand ready to ship incase a customer buys [but then again a person with ALOT of money I spose could have just as much ready-to-ship stock than someone who has say, a gazillion designs all print-per-order-as-they-come]

:rolleyes:
 

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I'd be very interested in hearing replies with people who have results or feedback from this scenario!

I myself have my shirts currently listed only via design on my index (or main) html page. Underneath each shirt I link the design to each style that it is available in.

Once a custommer is in the store page of my website - Categories are listed on the LEFT side of the page.

I will be redesigning the layout of my index page to clearly showcase categories of product, starting with two main categories..
1. Men's
2. Women's
I'll then break them down by product in sub-categories > t-shirts > wife beaters > booty shorts, etc.

and I may have some additional misc. or unisex categories like Sneakers, Caps, Buckles, etc.

I also think that I'll add categories by design niche - i may end up double or triple listing something, but I'd rather have my surfer hit my product a few more times then miss it entirely.

Also, have you considered adding a Site Map - I'm in the process of putting one on my website.
I believe this helps in indexing all of your products so that if a surfer is savvy enough, he looks at the bottom of your page and sees that he/she can view/choose every page of your site.
Site Map also helps in having Google index all of the pages of your website!

some info on Google Site Maps, start here:
http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/docs/en/protocol.html

So, to answer one of your questions, long winded, sorry, I don't think you can have enough categories. I am no expert though.

--
ezra
 

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Or am I noticing a few tshirt online stores with no categories listed and just a one array page of tshirt product?
I think that's because many online t-shirt stores target a specific "niche", so the whole site is one "category" of designs.

When you look at site with multiple categories of designs or a wide range of designs (choiceshirts, t-shirtking, cafepress premium stores), you will normally see a navigation menu down the left hand side that shows the different subject categories.

. Just how many categories of tshirt can you have? eg Humour, Political, Sport etc
As many as you need :) I wouldn't go into to many "sub-categories" though because then you are creating too many "clicks" to make the customer complete the sale.

Each click is a critical buying decision that the customer has to make. Too many clicks and that decision might not go in your favor :)

2. If so I wonder how differently and more interestingly it could be listed on a website.. the smart thing is to list it on the homepage, and have the categories accessable from any webpage the customer goes to on your website, and where on the page to put them?
I think this is where useability and customer expectations can play a factor. Customers may normally expect a navigation menu to be down the left hand side. If you get too "cute" with it, you may confuse the customer and have it backfire.

I definitely think if you have a bunch of categories, they should be available from EVERY page of your site to help your site remain easy to navigate. I think a customer should be able to reach any page of your site from any other page of your site (at least that's just my philospohy). Mainly because with search engines becoming more advanced, many times customers will enter into your site from DEEP within your site and may never see your homepage.

. It also depends just how many designs of tshirts you have, I assume those who could print-on-demand could list a heck of a lot more than someone who prints up the stock before hand ready to ship incase a customer buys
I'm not sure if it's a matter of print-on-demand vs stocked pre-printed designs when it comes to a number the number of categories you need. I think it depends on what type of t-shirt site you have.

If you have a few categories, it might work to display them across the top (Mens/Womens/Children). However, if you have like a dozen different subject categories, it probably would make more sense to display them down the side (fishing, humor, dogs, cats, birds, sports, etc)

If all you sell is fishing shirts, then there is no real need for categories (you could maybe just list every t-shirt design in a left hand navigation menu to make it easy to go from design to design).

Interesting topic! Any other thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Rodney said:
I definitely think if you have a bunch of categories, they should be available from EVERY page of your site to help your site remain easy to navigate. I think a customer should be able to reach any page of your site from any other page of your site (at least that's just my philospohy). Mainly because with search engines becoming more advanced, many times customers will enter into your site from DEEP within your site and may never see your homepage.
So very true. Isn't it strange the way the human mind works. You get so bogged down in creating fancy clever pages that you overlook the fundamental fact that yes, the customer may very well find a page, not necessarily your homepage, jump in, and if theres no "backbone navagation spine" of some kind to access and branch to all other sites, your screwed and the customer may leave without being any the wiser.

It's kind of like those cop thriller movies, you always see the hero walk into a dark brown down warehouse, full of steam and the guy NEVER looks up.
Theres always more dimensions that whats in front of you. Theres up, down, left, right, behind you, and the same can be said for a customer.
Which way is he gonna come at you?

Would you make a sale from someone entering the site through the "payment option explaination screen"? or the "F.A.Q" page. We always think about sales like the traditional physical way, a customer walks in through the front door of the shop and leaves the same way.

Perhaps this is a dynamic strength of the internet, its not always about your homepage, heck maybe even OTHER pages on your site bring in the money more than the homepage it's self. Who knows.

The other thing is its so true when you say "every click the customer makes is a CRUCIAL BUYING DECISION".
I can't count the number of times I've gone into a site, randomly and idly gone from here to there and either given up, gotten bored or made presumptions and most likely left the entire shop portal without realising there may have been a page here or there in the store that would have made me go whoa, I want ten of those, heres my card!

I think personally myself, from the "dungeon and dragoney" niche I am particularly going for, I can think of alot of interesting categories, I dont think I would go nuts into sub categories. I think a menu down the left side to say right.. these are the categories, and then all the customer has to do is click on one, and boom, theres all the shirts there with just one click to add to the cart and away the customer goes to checkout when they are ready.

Thanks for the feedback Rodney, and by all means if anyone else has thoughts, opinions, ideas, suggestions, by all means put in your two cents worth...:D
 

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read this post but by now i cant remember most of it :) so forgive me if im off track.

why not use a User-Select JS drop down menu in your top Header for all your items and place html links on every page back to the main categories ?
 

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I think less navigation is more control. Less options get you faster to the shopping cart...eactly where you want your customer to go. It isnt how clever or extensive we can make a website...its how user friendly and fast we can get to the ask to buy and close the deal. You might have 20 good designs but generally there are a few that really stand out...make those the game and rotate your designs periodically....thats what makes coming back to a website interesting...new content.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
LucyRoberts said:
read this post but by now i cant remember most of it :) so forgive me if im off track.

why not use a User-Select JS drop down menu in your top Header for all your items and place html links on every page back to the main categories ?
Excellent idea but my only concern is that some customers will be too lazy to use the drop down box menu, and if they cant see immediatley at least some categories listed down the side on the left or somewhere convenient and easy and free of clutter, they may not bother to look within or surf through out the store.

Ive pretty much finished the main homepage and the skeletal frame of the webstore now, the menu running down the side and the simple easy to use links at the top and bottom of the page [such as about us, faq, shipping and returns etc]

Now all I gotta do is work out the template page for each actual product if a customer happens to want to 'learn more info' on any one particular shirt i'll have in stock.

:D
 
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