Delivering conversion uplift through website taxonomy improvements

picture of a person with their hands on their head surrounded by files and documents

Earlier this year I wrote about how we delivered a multi-country taxonomy project for one of our clients. The post focused on the challenges of using a complex methodology across 5-markets. It also highlighted the difficulty in combining multi-market research findings into one set of recommendations.

There are numerous reasons why an organisation might wish to improve their website taxonomy. In the example above it was the realisation the taxonomy was not customer centric. One of our large UK retail clients had a similar ambition. To make the taxonomy more customer centric, and also to increase conversion. The project achieved this with a more than 1% uplift in conversion as a result.

A website taxonomy is more than just a navigation structure. It is the underpinning data that supports search, targeting, merchandising, navigation and more. And it has never been more important than now to get your taxonomy right. Customers are online like never before and the experience you deliver to them is built on the taxonomy.

The benefits of an improved taxonomy are manifold and include:

  • Improved performance of behavioural targeting software
  • Improved on and offsite search
  • Better filtering
  • Better browsing experience
  • and of course increased conversion rate

The taxonomy challenge

Not all taxonomies start off badly. Most evolve over time into a frankensteinian mess due to technology and organisational pressures. The main causes of poor taxonomy are:

  • Outdated, inflexible ERP systems
  • Lack of governance
  • Political in fighting
  • Lack of education and/or understanding from buying and merchandising teams
  • Lack of understanding about taxonomy from digital teams
  • Inaccurate or missing measurement data
  • Gaps in or lack of measurement strategy

The all encompassing issue is that solving taxonomy problems is big and hairy. It is why most of the engagements we are involved in have a large “stakeholder interview” element. We need to win hearts and minds and identify sacred cows for the project to be a success.

Good governance

I included lack of governance in my list of issues and with good reason. The moment a new taxonomy is launched it will start to morph, to bend to the will of the organisation. Without agreed rules and design principles to stop this it is inevitable.

Taxonomy governance can easily be incorporated into an organisations design guidelines. We are happy to determine what CTA’s must look and behave like. So why not taxonomy? We wouldn’t let a maverick designer lose on the online interpretation of our brand. Why let our taxonomy, the very structure that underpins our brand experience, be altered without due consideration?

Now is the time

It has never been more important to fix the issues with website taxonomy. And particularly for retailers. If it isn’t part of your digital transformation strategies it should be. The benefits are enormous and the effect long lasting.

If you recognise any of the issues covered above and would like to learn how to tame your taxonomy then please, get in touch on +44(0)800 024624 or email us at

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