Rich user experience is an ever important principle in this ‘Web 2.0′ era as users expectations have increased (and attention spans shortened). No longer do users want to search through static web pages but they are expecting an engaging and dynamic experience. Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are where it’s at, sites are to be designed for we, the people! However, user experience should not come at the cost of usability; nothing is more annoying than a flash site that doesn’t run on your iPad, a site that takes forever to load or a site that is so confusing you get lost on it!
There are a variety of tools, such as Adoble Flash and Ajax, that have been created to allow developers to create RIAs that allow users to have a rich, user-friendly experience. Let’s have a look at how one company does this extremely well.
Now, I don’t have to tell you I like shopping (see previous blog), but the one thing I like more than shopping is a wicked shopping site! Introducing my guilty pastime…Etsy! I’ve spent hours on this site, no joke.
Etsy is a fine example of a site that creates a rich user experience (previously by using Flash, but they are moving away from this). Etsy is a marketplace that has a vision for everyone to buy, sell and live handmade. Etsy enables people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Beyond that, Etsy has successfully created a community of like-minded users: artisans and artists, creators, collectors, and developers. Etsy APIs even let developers build their own Etsy-powered applications.
What I like about Etsy is that it offers a new online shopping experience. While this site might be compared to eBay, Etsy feels more like a personal shopping experience. Etsy has provided sellers with ‘stores’- allowing for a banner, an avatar, shop announcements and links to the store, and there is no auction bidding for items. The user interactions and collaborations such as discussion forums, the Etsy blog, virtual ‘workshops’, as well as the interactivity with Twitter and Facebook are something that eBay does not offer.
I can browse the site like I might browse my favorite store. I don’t have to search through categories such as ‘pants’, ‘skirts’, ‘shorts’.I can choose the way I shop!
I can shop by my favorite colours (turquoise) – you MUST try this! You run your mouse around the screen and colour bubbles appear.I don’t know how it works, but it’s genius and blows me away every time, and who doesn’t love to channel their inner 5 year old?
I can shop by member created shopping galleries, or shop by trending tags (I can even just search by user-defined categories).
I can ‘pounce’ on items in two different ways: by shops that just had a sale, or by shops that are undiscovered and still waiting for their first sale.
I can choose to shop locally by entering my location into their ‘Geolocator‘.
I can just on a Time Machine and scroll through items that are just listed, about to end, or just sold!
And best yet, I can pick a friend on Facebook, Etsy will search their ‘Likes’ and suggest gifts!! Alternatively, you can just pick a type of friend, such as ‘Knight the Knitter‘ or ‘Tina the Tween’ for gift suggestions.
As you can see, this site goes beyond ‘buying and selling’ and creates an amazing experience by making it easy for users to find items, and helps sellers improve visibility.
. Is this site not genius? Best yet, you don’t have to become a member to start browsing, it’s an open marketplace for you to browse around. So step right in and kiss the next 2 hours goodbye!!