I nee to restructure my store categories. In terms of best practices, what is a the average or max amount of subcategory layers that should be created?
The amount of categories and filters you create will of course have an inpact on performance. However most of the processes handling this can be set to be run in the background. Meaning that it doesn't have to affect day to day customers or administrators.
Before looking into creating a giant category tree i would myself start looking at what can be accomplished with the layered navigation. The layered navigations filters will statisfy your customers need to browser for the items they want, and not create a big burden in terms of store administration. This is not to say you shouldn't have any sub categories, since there are limits to what filters can accomplish.
I would normaly advice not to go more then 3 subcategories down. Unless you have a remkarable huge and varriet assortment of products.
I hope this helps :-)
That's a great question Rusty. Honestly I'd advise you to not think along the lines of what the system can hadle. Provided you have adequet server resouces you should'nt see any issues with numerous categories.
What you do need to do is... think more along the lines of user experience. How best to present and organize your shop in a way that makes sense for your visitors. Hope that helps.
There is no hard and fast rule for that, Just make enough of them to let you customers easily browse your products catalog to find what they are looking for.
If you're interested in the best practices for increased user activity and increased sales, then I have the best solution for you. I've done a bit of study on this and have come across some pretty good evidence including multi-variate testing to explain the best solution. I'll explain it to you.
I assume that you have enough SKUs to confuse a first time customer. If that's true, then this advice is for you:
Top Level Categories
Notice the top level categories of amazon, or ebay, they are very, very broad. You want no more than ten, broad top level categories in a perfect world. The difficult part is being able to accurately describe the products under each specific category.
Too many categories has shown to scare away users.
Innaccurate categories has been shown to frustrate and timeout users attention span.
Second Level Categories
The second level categories should also be kept under TEN, but this time you should get as precise as you can.
If you need more than ten categories, that's ok, accuracy is key here because you wont have users much longer.
Users need to find what they're looking for no, or never.
Third Level Categories
Simple, you shouldn't have third level categories.
You should put your products into any category that they COULD fit in.
I've vastly simplified this for you. Hope it helps.