How to create product categories

21 November 2023  |  lisa

How to create product categories

A clear navigation and properly structured product catalogue can make all the difference on having a successful shop. A customer's journey to a product should be quick and easy, so making sure your product categories are well organised is a must.

It's also worth noting that Google consistently strives to provide users with the most relevant results based on their search, so it is crucial to optimise your product categories to ensure they rank well within their search listings.

So, where do I start?

Putting pen to paper (or creating a spreadsheet!) is the best way to figure out how you want your online shop's categories to be organised. This will help you visualise how the shop will look and the steps a customer will take to find products quickly.

Take guidance from Hick's law, "simplifying choices removes barriers in decision-making" and keep things as straight-forward as possible. Get inspiration from successful competitors and, if a common theme occurs, stick to this on your site because this is what people will expect.

Optimising your categories for SEO first, before adding products, is definitely recommended. While products can change over time, go out of stock, be discontinued, etc, categories typically don't. So making sure this is set up first is vital, not just for customers but also for Google.

Create a product category

Once you're happy with how you want your categories to be structured, creating your first basic product category is easy with the following steps.

  1. Within the Admin Panel, go to Products > Product Categories
  2. Click the Green Plus icon (top right) to start the Category Creator
  3. Type in a Category title
  4. Click Save

In the first section, called Visibility, Active and Add to Navigation Bar are already ticked by default. If you don't want a category to be displayed immediately, or for it to be added to the navigation bar, make sure you untick these accordingly before saving.

In our example below, we've entered 'Jewellery' into the Category title field and the system has auto-generated the URL text from the title in the field below. This is then set as the URL of the category, so it will look like

It is recommended that the Category title and URL match as this is good SEO practice, so make sure the box is ticked to the right of the URL Text field. Once saved, the new product category is ready to start assigning products to.

Category Creator Properties Page

We have kept all other options set as default for now, as we can come back to more advanced settings later.

Add category details

On the Content tab, there are three areas to add text and images to. The Short Description will appear below a category's thumbnail and title when shown within a list of categories. This could be within a block on the homepage or on a category where a list of sub-categories are shown. As most people don't read much text online these days, it is recommended to only use this field if it's absolutely necessary, and to limit the text to no more than one or two short sentences, to ensure the site doesn't look cluttered and is user-friendly.

The Page Content (above list) field displays content above the list of products within the category itself. And likewise, the Page Content (below list) field displays content below the list of products.

It is advisable to add a short summary of the category within the Page Content (above list) field for SEO purposes, so Google understands what the page is about. This shouldn't be any longer than three lines. Longer sections of text should be added below the list of products to ensure customers aren't distracted by lots of text and can get to the products quickly.

It is recommended to leave the Show Category Title option ticked. This will display the category title above the content and products and will ensure both customers and Google know which category they are in.

Assign products to a product category

If you already have products added to your site, you can now start assigning products to a category by going to the Products tab. By default, the Product Assignment drop-down is set to 'Manual Selection'. This means that you can manually select your products by clicking the Browse button and choosing which products you want to assign.

Once you click the Browse button, all of your products will be listed straight away within the pop-up window, if they haven't been assigned to categories yet. If you have started to categorise products, you will need to select the category they're assigned to within the drop-down at the top.

Once you see the products you want to assign, you can then select all products by clicking the Select all checkbox at the top of the list or choose individual products by clicking each relevant checkbox. Then click on the Assign Selected button at the bottom to add them.

The other options within the Product Assignment drop-down are All Products, Latest Products or brands that have been added via Products > Brands. Choosing any of these options will assign qualifying products automatically. Please note, products must have their relevant Brand set in the Properties tab in the Product Editor to ensure they show within a Brands category.

You can also assign products to categories via the Product Editor. Go to Products > View and find the product you wish to add. Click on the Categories tab and select the category you wish to assign the product to. For multiple categories, hold down the Ctrl key on PCs and the Cmd key on Macs and then select.


If you have a large product catalogue, having sub-categories allows customers to narrow down their searches and find the exact item they were looking for quickly. Additionally, sub-categories can help to organise and categorise products in an easy to understand manner, which can make the shopping experience more intuitive and user-friendly, leading to increased sales and revenue.

Create a sub-category

To create a sub-category, first you need to have a parent category created. Once you have this in place, follow the below steps to create a sub-category.

  1. Within Products > Product Categories, find the category you wish to add a sub-category to
  2. Click the green plus icon to the far right of that category
  3. Within the Category Creator, follow the steps detailed in the Create a product category section above
  4. The created sub-category will now be inside the parent category. This is indicated with an arrow on the parent category that indicates it has a sub-category(s).

You can't add sub-categories to a parent category if there are already products assigned. A category can either contain products or sub-categories, not both. To add filtering for a category with products already assigned, consider using the Refine features.

Add sub-category thumbnails

Having thumbnail images for your sub-categories isn't just visually pleasing but also good for user experience because most people respond and interact with images, rather than text online. To add thumbnails to your categories, follow the steps below.

  1. Click into a category and go to the Images tab
  2. Within the For Sub-Category List Pages section, click the blue folder icon next to Thumbnail Image and select an image either from your current files or upload a new one
  3. Once the image is selected, click Save

The category Thumbnail Image will appear within a category page that displays sub-categories, as well as category blocks, such as Selected Categories. Therefore, all thumbnails should be the same size and shape for consistency when shown together. Have a read of our Best practices for website photos and product images guide for more tips.

Category page examples

Below are some examples of a category list page, such as our category example we built in this guide, and a few of our customer's stores who have built upon the basic design and changed this to their brand and needs.

Other Features

Default Order

Want to display products that are assigned in the category in a specific way? You can set this on the Default order drop-down within the category's Properties tab. There are 9 order options to choose from which are by SKU, Product title, Release date, Price ascending, Price descending, Top Sellers, Quantity descending, Part number (MPN) or Custom Order. When Custom Order is selected, products will be displayed in the order they are manually set to in the Products tab of the category. Simply use the green up and down arrows to move them into your chosen order.

Category Labels

To display a label on top of a category thumbnail image, such as Sale, go into the Images tab and select the label in the Category label drop-down. Please note, the label must be created within Products > Product Labels first to be able to assign it.

Themes and Layouts (Advanced user)

Customising a category page with its own theme or category and product layouts can be used if specific categories require unique branding or design. Simply create the theme or layout and assign it within the Properties tab of the category. Each layout can have its own unique class added to it, which can be referenced within the theme, as well as its own Content Blocks.

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