Navigation & Taxonomy Redesign


Feature image of the navigation design within an iPhone frame overplayed on a MacBook Pro
Manager of Product Design,
North American E-commerce
Jul 2018–Aug 2019

The Opportunity

The search, browse, and navigation experience of lululemon’s ecommerce platform was impeding discovery and confusing users. The design and strategy decisions made during the implementation of this phase of the user journey focused too heavily on business and brand desires rather than how users wanted to engage.

The Solution

The new navigation focused on 3 pillars:
  1. Speed

  2. Inspiration

  3. Clarity

In our design sprint we identified 4 mindsets users can be categorized into when engaging with lululemon’s ecommerce platform. We collaboratively landed on a strong long term goal:
Meet guest need state and guide successful discovery.
The power of this long term goal was that it allowed us to focus on the core user journeys that we knew people valued. The “need states” were:
  • I know what I want and I know how to find it
  • I don’t know exactly what I want but I have an idea of where to find it
  • I have an idea of what I want but am not sure where to find it
  • I have no idea what I want and I don’t know where it is

The Process

Site navigation is a relationship between site taxonomy and user experience. Taxonomy was one of the first initiatives I joined and as a small team of 4 we were able to move quickly. To sum up the issue in a visual way, we recognized the need to match the mental models of users rather than try and force users to interpret brand language.

For example:


Internal brand and merchant teams felt crops was more on brand than capris.Searching Google Images for the term ‘crops’ gives us a signal that lululemon’s definition of crops does not match the mental model of most people.
Screenshot of lululemon's category description page for "crops" Screenshot of Google Image search results for "crops"


Let’s have some fun with one more example. Internal merchant teams decided that ‘tanks‘ was more on brand than ‘tank top‘
Screenshot of lululemon's category description page for "tanks" Screenshot of Google Image search results for "tanks"
There’s a nuance to naming products in a way that builds brand equity as well as ensuring users understand brand language. Using data to inform these decisions helps to avoid inadvertently hurting conversion rates.

Coordinating With A Design Sprint

To align the taxonomy and navigation redesign teams we held a design sprint that included Product Design, Product Management, Search Marketing, Engineering, and Frontline Staff. It was incredibly productive and interesting to observe how different minds solve challenges.
Camera captures of whiteboards

Design Sprint Output

The cross-functional team discovered some excellent insights that our product design team synthesized:
What has to be true
  • We know who our guest’s are
  • We understand our guest’s need
  • We identify the ‘right’ moments for promotion
  • We have a data + biz backed POV on what should be in the Nav
  • Navigation must be flexible
What would cause us to fail
  • Nav is slow & doesn’t work
  • Nav is overwhelming (or too minimal)
  • Jargon or inside-voice gets in the way of understanding
  • We don’t enroll all of the teams required to make navigation successful
  • We don’t align with in-store educator experience

Moments That Matter

Using our long term goal and knowing what needs to be true as well as what would cause us to fail our group identified the following moments that matter to our users by running a doing/thinking/feeling exercise:
  • Entry Page Where To Start?
  • Main Nav Discovery
  • L1 Landing Page (Women’s / Men’s / Girls Page) Discovery
  • L3 Landing Page (CDP) Getting Oriented
  • Filter Engagement Desire
Matching these moments that matter to the persona we were creating for led to the following initial concept:
Our initial concept was exciting and design was completed in just two weeks. After user testing we discovered we needed to simplify. The inspirational moments were best kept as a secondary element while keeping the user focused on getting to the product category needed to be the primary element.

After 3 rounds of iterations our team had designed an experience we all felt stuck a balance between usability and inspiration.

The Results

The taxonomy and navigation groups became so interdependent that executive leadership combined the teams into a single group. A new search platform, new taxonomy, and new navigation experience are currently being rolled out and showing significant lifts to all KPIs.

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