Mindy 2.0

Etsy Provides the Ultimate User Shopping Experience April 1, 2011

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!!


28 Responses to “Etsy Provides the Ultimate User Shopping Experience”

  1. angjer Says:

    I love the way Etsy dynamically learns the ‘Likes’ of a Facebook user to suggest gifts. It’s an interesting concept which fits well with the “rich user experiences” pattern, demostrating deep and adaptive personalization for customers. But if your friends “Like” some ridiculous stuff on Facebook, you are not going to buy it for them eh? Hahaha…

    • Mindy747 Says:

      Isn’t it great! I thought it was quite funny when I went to try it and it suggested ‘Tom Jones’ and ‘Michael Jackson’ gifts for a friend of mine! But she is a fan… and their were lots of gifts that suited her πŸ™‚

  2. Wow, you know I liked Etsy but never realized it had that many cool capabilities! Thanks for all the info, I’m going to go channel my inner 5 year old now πŸ™‚

    • Mindy747 Says:

      Thanks for the comment Abigail! It’s amazing all the stuff you can do on Etsy, I especially love the colour finder!! It’s just so much fun to play with too!

  3. Steff Says:

    Etsy is a good example of a rich user experience. You’re right, the colour finder is fun and different, making users want to stay and play around with it. The only unfortunate factor is that this section is done in Flash, and we all know the limitations this poses on certain devices at this point in time (as you said). However, seeing the great things that are starting to develop and come through in HTML5, etc., hopefully they will soon be able to implement this rich user interaction using a different method.

  4. Steve Aw Says:

    Esty is an awesome example, they have great GUI and they did a remarkable job on their Colors Selection Page http://www.etsy.com/color.php?ref=fp_nav_colors :> It looks amazing :>
    But out of curiosity, what do u think that in a couple of years time will Esty be over taking eBay?

    • Mindy747 Says:

      Hey Steve, I agree- the colour page is my favourite!! In terms of taking over, I don’t think Etsy ever will, they have difference audiences. Etsy is more for handcrafted items, whereas eBay covers it all. Also, I think eBay caters to the buyer, there is way more selection, whereas Etsy tries to make it more affordable to list (lower listing price, longer listing time, etc…) I think there’s room for both of them to survive. If you google Etsy vs. Ebay you’ll see that there’s lots of conflicting answers, there is something in both for everyone.

  5. empecee Says:

    just checked out this site. i think this site is probably better that ebay. it just has a better feel about it. i like the idea of on-line shopping, because you can source items, that aren’t found in the malls or high street, but until the on-line site come up with a way for me to have a coffee and cake on-line, then it’s still a second choice for me.

  6. Trent Heath Says:

    Hi Mindy,

    Interesting you mention that Etsy has APIs whereby external sites and services can use Etsy as a storefront. If we look at the best practice, RIAs should make all their data addressable. If there are dozens, hundreds or thousands of sites and services making use of the API, this could make finding the same product across multiple API platform sites and services difficult to aggregate. Do you know how Etsy deals with this issue?

    • Mindy747 Says:

      Hi Heath,
      I’m not sure exactly how Etsy deals with this – they seem to take some control over th developers, as you can see in their Developer Community , but I’m not very technical at all (What’s an API anyway!? HAHA! JK) – but they do have some Do’s and Don’ts on the site, but I’m not sure if that deals with the issue you’ve mentioned.

      • Mindy747 Says:

        They also have a great discussion forum on the Developer site, so if this is something you are interested in you could probably find some answers by posing this question on this form! πŸ™‚

      • Trent Heath Says:

        Hi Mindy,

        Thanks for the link out to the developer resources – saves me being an expert and use collective intelligence. After a quick look, everything has one consistent URL with Etsy – so clearly Etsy has understood the need for addressability in rich user experiences. Here’s the link to the resource I found the information from: http://developer.etsy.com/docs#request_urls

        – Trent

      • Mindy747 Says:

        Very interesting information! Like I mentioned, I’m not technical at all, so this has been interesting for me!

  7. Thank you Mindy on this site. It is really interesting. Moreover, it is good to show handcrafts. Additionally, the prices are not expensive we can say reasonable prices. Empecee Says is better then ebay but I do not agree with his still ebay is a global site I reckon Etsy is not better than ebay but still a good idea .

    • Mindy747 Says:

      I think that eBay and Etsy can’t really be compared on all levels at the moment. Etsy has positioned itself as more of a ‘specialty’ shop – specializing in handcrafted goods, and a way to connect sellers (artists) and the buyers. eBay is a go to site for every product imaginable. It’s like comparing Wal-Mart and a farmer’s market. I think both have something to offer, and both target different audiences for different products – and obviously both do a great job of it, as they are both very successful sites!

  8. I like the way Etsy integrated with Facebook and how the user get gifts suggestions. But I think it not as great and global as ebay

    Thanks Mindy

    • Mindy747 Says:

      You are right Mohammed, Etsy is more of a specialty shop, generally for handmade crafts. eBay is still the overall leader, but there is plenty of room for Etsy in this market! πŸ™‚

  9. […] Etsy Provides the Ultimate User Shopping Experience (mindy747.wordpress.com) […]

  10. Kathleen Says:

    Etsy! I bought this handmade coin purse from there (a few years ago now) and have wanted to go back. Back then not a lot of stores ship to Australia (and when they do, it’s so expensive).

    Then last year, I was looking for a baby gift and found the search quite overwhelming! I did not have anything specific in mind which did not help! But they seem to be improving on that aspect by having the “Gift Ideas” feature. The Facebook link is a good idea, do they only base their suggestions on “Likes” only?

    • Mindy747 Says:

      Hi Kathleen, You’re right, they have gotten better at being ‘International’- sellers are realizing that’s the only way they’ll survive if they want to compete with eBay.
      I do believe that the Facebook gift suggestions are only based on ‘Likes’ – so hopefully your friends were honest when they picked their likes! LOL

  11. darkwaterhorses Says:

    When I think of online shopping, there’s two words that pop inside my head: ‘eBay’ and ‘Amazon’. Two of the biggest online shopping services on the online world.

    You mentioned that Esty collaborates with Facebook and Twitter but eBay doesn’t. You wrote it in the blog like it’s a bad thing for eBay not to collaborate with them. eBay are already big themselves so they don’t need help from the other big boys (Facebook & Twitter) to help attract people to their sites.

    Esty isn’t that well known to the majority of online users so I would probably take a fancy mancy guess and say that it needs to leverage off other social media applications to attract more potential consumers – especially with Facebook; if you obtain 1% from the 600 million facebook registered users then I think they’re doing pretty well for themselves.

    • Mindy747 Says:

      Hey, thanks for the comment. I think you misunderstood – I wasn’t really trying to compare Etsy and eBay, like I’ve mentioned in previous comments, they are quite different. I merely used the example that Facebook and Twitter were used in etsy, since it is more targeted at Artisans who are building their brand, etc, whereas eBay is basically a garage sale for most people – Etsy is a craft store, so yes, it will never be eBay, and they don’t want to be eBay…. If I ask the majority of my girlfriends which sites they use, of course they will say both, but they all tend to look at etsy for gifts and handmade crafts, jewellery, custom orders, etc… and of course my guy friends are oblivious to what Etsy even is…

  12. n6749755 Says:

    That is amazing website, i am interested in website like that.
    thank you for your great explaining of the website features.

  13. […] are a variety of sites that are taking full advantage of the long tail, companies such as Etsy, Amazon, Audible, and Netflix. Let’s look at some specific examples of companies leveraging […]

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