Etsy: Patterns and Flows

Patricia Garcia Soto
3 min readMar 17, 2021


How design patterns make showcasing over 60 million products look easy…

As the pandemic continues, so does our reliance on e-commerce sites for shopping of all kinds. My own online shopping has increased like never before, as has my motivation to shop small businesses rather than big box stores. Etsy makes this easy by providing users with a highly usable site that offers a high level of personalization and a simplified purchasing process.

Basic Etsy task flow for purchasing earrings.

As a site with so many products and sellers, Etsy makes the searching and buying process relatively easy. A user typically starts by searching a product or a keyword on the Etsy homepage. This is where some of the many recognizable design patterns come in. Given the number of sellers on the site itself, Etsy provides an organized advanced search filtering system to narrow the results.

Additionally, Etsy’s large search bar located on their home page utilizes predictive text to offer search options to users. Boosting user confidence in the search process is taken a step further through personalized search suggestions for anyone that is logged into their individual account.

My personalized suggested searches on Etsy.

Many of these recognizable design patterns help to offset some of the more complicated or text heavy pages — particularly, the product pages themselves. Pages for Etsy products tend to be at the mercy of the shop or seller and can be lengthy and a bit distracting (reviews, shipping, product instructions, and shop information all live on this page).

One of the strongest patterns utilized by Etsy is the nav bar that stays at the top of the page through all actions on the site. The nav bar includes a large search field, main site categories with their own mega menus, as well as access to a shopping cart, favorites, and indivdual’s user profile.

Etsy Navigation Bar

Given the company’s astounding number of products (over 60 million!) the site takes extra care to organize and categorize product cards across its different pages. Etsy’s card pattern allows for users to see and take in more products as they search — which significantly decreases endless scrolling that might take place on a site with such high volume. This card pattern also translates very well to the Etsy mobile app.

Cards help users browse product search results.

Personally, my favorite part of using Etsy is that I can easily categorize products and shops that I find interesting, as well as receive notifications about sales and changes that happen with those items. This feature makes Etsy’s user experience stand out from other e-commerce sites, and offers continued personalization that I believe increases customer loyalty and satisfaction.

As consumers continue to emphasize ‘shopping small,’ Etsy’s site traffic is likely to increase, making their site experience all the more important for the users buying, and the shop owners building their businesses.