• 05:57:09 am on September 22, 2009 | 0
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    Shopping, with a little help from my friends

    Even in this down economy, Forrester Research projects that holiday sales will reach more than $33 billion this season. That’s a lot of dough, and here are some guiding principles to help shape a successful online shopping experience.

    #1 – Make shopping fun. Entice users even before they are customers by using a consistent UI on all your site. Offer a variety of self-service methods, like visual decision trees that use pictures of products help orient users to their correct product, and guide them down a particular discovery path. Let them search by price range, color or even by personality like gadget geek, mom-to-be or fashionista.

    Interactive sites relying on technologies like AJAX work. You can drag and drop content on a page to where you want to interact with it. Use rollovers, sliders for price range pickers, or a color palette to search for items of a single color to make sites fun.

    Let peer pressure help you out by listing top searches or hot buys are – both which serve as good indicators of current trends..

    #2 – Let Users use their own words. Users don’t always think in the context of company-generated navigational topics. Let users tag content and browse tag clouds.

    #3 – Information on the User’s Terms. Push relevant service alerts or policy changes out. Let users create watchlists so that they can be alerted when an item goes on sale, or falls below a target price.

    #4 – Use the wisdom of crowds. You trust peer advice over company recommendations. Kaboodle, for example, touts “shopping is more fun with friends”. Append feedback forms and ratings to content and act on it.

    You will be more successful if you can streamline the shopping experience, and use community input to validate purchase decisions.

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