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Don't overwhelm me!

with 500 products per page

     
9:14 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Previously,
we've had a default of 21 products per page display on our site.

How many products to you like to see per page?
How many is too many?
Would you rather go through 5 pages of 20 items, or 20 pages of 5 items?

I've changed our cart to be able to allow users to show 8, 20, 50, 100, or All products, and will be capturing data to find out which they prefer so I can set the default.

What is your optimal number of products per page?

9:17 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Why not let the user continue to set his or her own number of items per page? :)

I've always been a believer in giving the user control over things like that. I happen to like 100 items per page in most instances however I have a high-speed connection whereas someone on dial-up might prefer fewer items per page. :)

9:30 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I will leave the option for the customer to change the number of products per page, but I'd like to set the default to the most "popular" number.
9:45 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Ah, sorry if I misunderstood you. The default setting I use on most of my sites is 20 items per page and then let the user customize as needed. :)
9:57 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Whenever I get the first page of such a display, I immediately look for "display all on one page". Also, don't reduce the size of the thumbnails for the "all" choice--I don't want them smaller, I just want to see them all on one page. Showing fewer than 100 thumbnails per page reminds me of the news organizations which break up a short web story into 14 pages of one paragraph each, with plenty of adverts on each page.

Construct the page so that the top of the page displays first: Set any tables to "table-layout:fixed;". If necessary use several smaller tables or divs that appear to be one. If necessary optimize the loading of the top 20 or so thumbnails (start them loading into temps in the <head>, then as soon as you get to the point in loading the <body> where the part of the dom tree to hold them is complete, interrupt loading to move them into place). Then the speed of the line makes no difference; all users will see the top screen in full as soon as possible, and the remainder of the page will load off-screen.

5:41 pm on Aug 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Iv e always found 20 to be the optimum, tow columns of ten
9:15 am on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Iv e always found 20 to be the optimum, tow columns of ten

Exactly

11:38 am on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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10 is way better than 20 because when you have like 10 items you are making it easy for the site visitor to browse and investigate each one.
11:46 am on Aug 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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to akmac: see? webmasters have different opinions, so the customers :-) so probably make a drop-down near the "next page" button, with some options about how many items to display on the page :-)
9:16 am on Aug 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I think this is something that depends a great deal on the design of your website, the type of products that you are selling and to what sort of person - although the latter two should of course influence the former.

For example,

Florist
Visitors to your website probably know they want to send flowers (or, with a doth of the cap to Theodore Levitt [google.co.uk], they are perhaps buying a gift).

Most visitors would probably just want to send something nice - in this case I suggest your website should have three, maybe four columns of products so that it is easy to compare them. "Oooh, that looks nice..., oh! Look at those, beautiful!"

Computer Equipment
Here I would suggest having one column, with a slightly more detailed description of each product - e.g. a list of MP3 players should show capacity, screen size, battery life etc. so that it is easy to scroll quickly through and eliminate ones you don't want - it's very annoying to click on a product to find it's nothing like what you need.*

Choice!
There are of course lots of other examples, and probably different arguments for both of the above, but my point is that the optimal number of products per page is likely to be different for one type of product - and customer - over another.

Finally, there is the choice option, as mentioned above. Have a dropdown menu (or even better, if you have space, actually show the number as text to be clicked on: 8, 16, 24, 32 - it's one less thing for the user to do), and when the user selects the number they want displayed you refresh the page and save that choice as a cookie so they don't have to change it again.

Secondly, have a database table (or text file) with each numerical option, and each time someone selects, e.g. 8 products per page, increase a counter for that number by one. This way the most popular choice is always selected by default without you having to even think about it. Of course, the cookie (above) will always override it for an individual user.

* of course, this could be eliminated by an effective Search function, but you get my point :-)

12:55 am on Aug 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've always set the default around 20 products (at most) but ultimately leave it up to the potential customer to decide how they'd like to view the page.
7:04 am on Aug 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm gathering that it's more of a balance between page height and number of images that determines an optimal setting. One site I work with where image is far more important than text has 20 in two columns making 10 rows. Another has very tiny thumbs with textual content in single rows, 30 works well for that. Another is a text-only catalog output with no images at all, 50 works.

All of course with a "per page" option, but oddly enough it doesn't seem to get used much. The less thinking shoppers have to do the happier they seem to be.

1:37 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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why don't you enable people to set that thing for themselves?
3:18 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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why don't you enable people to set that thing for themselves?

akmac already does:-

I've changed our cart to be able to allow users to show 8, 20, 50, 100, or All products, and will be capturing data to find out which they prefer so I can set the default.

However, they shouldn't *have* to set it for themselves, they should just be able to if they want to. It is the optimal number to default to that is the question.

5:28 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I think the top ten... with options to change number and filtering methods
8:30 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Goingincircles-excellent post. The type of products do matter. I'm selling luxury goods, as opposed to nuts and bolts-so in my mind it makes sense to limit the products per page to something less than "Show All". As rocknbil points out, i think the best number is dependent on your display. As many products as you can fit above the fold, without compromising presentation.

For me, I think I'll set the default to 12 for now. 3 columns of 4 products.

[edited by: akmac at 8:51 pm (utc) on Aug. 13, 2007]

8:33 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm from the 10-20 camp. I prefer 5 but most of my clients won't let me get away with it. I like to see the meat ATF (Above the Fold). The products are the meat.

I always end up choosing the maximum number of results to display as my Internet connection allows me to do that. I surely wouldn't impose a 50-100 per page display by default, that would be website suicide from both user and SE viewpoints.

You also end up with many more pages to work with for indexing. Make sure your filtered URIs are not getting indexed, you won't like the outcome.

[edited by: pageoneresults at 9:30 pm (utc) on Aug. 13, 2007]

8:55 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Make sure your filtered URIs are not getting indexed

Good point-I completely spaced on that. What is your preferred method of preventing this, robots.txt?

8:59 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What is your preferred method of preventing this, robots.txt?

My preferred method "now" would be IP Based Delivery. If its a bot, the filters are not available for indexing.

Outside of that, you could enclose them in some form of JavaScript but that's not 100% foolproof.

On a side note, I do know that ASP.NET Postbacks are a 100% foolproof way of preventing those filters from getting indexed. ;)

4:43 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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pageoneresults,

I'm confused as to why you say that many products on a page is SE suicide, and more paginated pages "to work with" is good.

5:36 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I think he means that it's better to target multiple keywords with multiple pages than to try and get one page to rank for all of them.

As opposed to diluting your product keywords with 100 products, divide them into a reasonable number and focus on each page ranking for unique and valuable terms.

Kind of like breaking and article into multiple pages-keyword targeting.

5:50 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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akmac got part of it. :)

The other parts have to do with various issues. The most important one being the user. I think many prefer shorter pages with the option to expand them where applicable.

The second one being performance. Remember, we still have quite a large audience with speeds that are less than what many of us have. I prefer more compact pages over the 500-1000k monsters being served by some ecommerce sites these days. I've seen pages making 150-200 http requests and taking upwards of 2 minutes to load on a 56k. That's unacceptable from my view, totally unacceptable, shame on them!

6:46 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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But as far as the SE aspect, is it basically keyword dilution/focusing?
7:26 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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But as far as the SE aspect, is it basically keyword dilution/focusing?

From my perspective, yes. You have to figure that the bulk of your power is going to be that content that resides directly after the <body> element. Those first 5-20 listings are pretty visible. Increase that to 100 and you really start to dilute the page itself.

But, you know, this could work both ways. If you are displaying 10 products per page now, and then increased that to 20 products per page, you've added twice as much content. As long as the products are all relevant to an upper level cat, you should be fine.

I look at it more from a user perspective though. And, site design will also be a determining factor. I typically will not do two column product pages. I prefer single rows using various CSS methods to achieve the visual effect I want. You may look at one of my product pages and see something like this...

<h2>Product 1</h2>
<p>Product 1 Inverted Pyramid Summary Description</p>
<h2>Product 2</h2>
<p>Product 2 Inverted Pyramid Summary Description</p>
Etc...

I just like to keep things really, really simple. I've got to make sure that content is available to the bot and that there are no roadblocks whatsoever while it traverses that content. When I'm done with a page, I head on over to my handy little html stripper and see what I'm left with after all html has been stripped. That's what counts. And, in what order it is being presented. It should also be 100% readable. ;)

8:30 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There is a book called The Paradox of Choice, great book and perhaps relevant here.

In one experiment described in it they set up a display with somewhat unusual preserves on it - ie not the most commonly bought flavours. Some of the time people could sample six different varieties, some of the time 24 different varieties. When they sampled, they were given a coupon for $1 off the purchase of a jar.

People stopped, looked and tasted more often when there was a more varied selection of preserves, but they bought more often when they only had 6 to choose from.

And it wasn't a marginal difference either - 3% bought when there was 24, but 30% bought when there was only 6.

I don't know how that translated to ecommerce, but it's something to think about.

8:41 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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And it wasn't a marginal difference either - 3% bought when there was 24, but 30% bought when there was only 6.

Most popular flavors?

I don't know how that translated to ecommerce, but it's something to think about.

Most definitely!

Default page view...

Most Popular 10 per page.

Or, from an indexing perspective, default view of...

Least Popular 10 per page.

So, how do you take it from here? Which view would you choose?

9:31 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Most popular flavors?

Actually no. They controlled for that in some way, I forget how exactly.

It's over a year since I read the book and I loaned it to someone and forget who now, so can't look it up. It was a great read - worth looking for.

So, how do you take it from here? Which view would you choose?

I think I'd have to split test - it's so dependent on what you're selling and who you're selling to.

But on balance I'd go for the lower numbers, as long as those who really want lots of choice have that option. It seems that although people think they want a lot of choice, they may become sort of paralysed when faced with it.

9:47 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Sounds good, thanks a lot.
10:12 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've seen pages making 150-200 http requests and taking upwards of 2 minutes to load on a 56k. That's unacceptable

It's acceptable as long as the page is set up so that content above the fold appears quickly and the rest loads while I read the first screen.

As a rural dweller on a slow connection, I much prefer that to having to wade through a bunch of separate pages to see what you've got to offer.

10:15 pm on Aug 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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> How many products to you like to see per page?

Someone on WW wrote a post about Information Architecture which, I think, applies in this situation. I like to see about 10 items per page. If you have more products in a category than that, offer a way to filter the results in a meaningful way to encourage a purchase.

For example, you could filter results by:

* best sellers
* price range
* color, size, length, or other product features (think eBay's Item Specifics)
* high user rating
* items that ship for free
* defect rate

 

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