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No Awesome Usability Experience Ecommerce Trend This Year  

:: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 ::

Two nights ago, I was driving my family home from somewhere. I took a longer route home so we could gaze out at all the houses who had Christmas lights up. It's been a tradition since my kids were little. I drive us around the town, up and down the streets, and we marvel at how creative some of the decorating is.

You can spot the trends from year to year too. White lights vs colored ones. Blinking "chasers" vs still bulbs. Icicle lights patterns vs traditional straight lines. Blow-up Santa vs the more delicately lit reindeer placed on the front lawn.

Traditions Are Meaningful and Important to People

I love Christmastime. When I got married last December 3, I married someone I've known for over 15 years. We were married to other people for most of that time and when our marriages crumbled, our friendship seemed to strengthen. There was the day we both realized we had the same taste in furniture. And, the day he learned I decorated Christmas trees the way he'd always wanted to. Once, he even did, but he came home to find his ex-wife had taken off everything he did and re-did it her way.

The day we married, we came home from our quick ceremony with our kids and put up Christmas lights on the house and front lawn of the home we bought the summer before. We chopped down a Christmas tree and dressed it with white lights, babies breath and Victorian type ornaments.

The cats clawed the tree and drank the tree water.

The Value of Experiencing an Experience

This year, I bought them catnip and a new scratching post, and placed it near the Christmas tree.

The reason I'm talking about this stuff is because I stopped working long enough to notice there is a world outside my house.

I work from home. When I notice a trend, it's most certainly going to be a search engine one, or blogs perhaps. Web standards and accessibility, web design, CSS and popular SEO tools too - these things are in my head when I fall asleep and are waiting for me as soon as I log into my email.

When something is new on the Internet, I hear about it. As the owner of a web design forums, it's hard not to. But, if you were to ask me what the trends are in fashion, or book topics, or automobile preferences, or the new favorite travel spots to get to, I wouldn't have the slightest idea. It was only just before Christmas that I learned who Rachael Ray is and I managed to catch the season finale of The Apprentice, so I could get hysterical about the looney outcome of an entire series I never saw.

Life passes by when you're glued to a computer.

What I Missed Was a Real Surprise, Considering What I Do For a Living

So, this week, I've taken time off to do things I don't let myself do that often. I visited my parents, whom I haven't seen since last year. I've been sleeping in. I discovered my son has a new love of book reading, so we made a second luxurious trip to a bookstore where he filled his head with sports, history and helped me hunt for bargain book finds.

I went to the shopping mall 5 times, and my daughter thinks she's died and gone to Heaven. I haven't been to a Mall during Christmastime in over 5 years! I've been shopping online instead. This year, the online stores that I visited were so badly designed I only bought from two - Amazon and the HeyGarlicHead site.

I was more willing to handle crowds, hunt for a parking space and wait in line, then buy from web sites this year.

And this is the trend that shocks me to the core. It's not so much that I walked outside to see what I could find. It's that the experience was so much more intimate. Alive. Colorful. Rewarding. Fun.

There are sounds, like music in stores, car radios, people talking, sales clerks to chat with and groups of giggling girls carrying huge Victoria's Secret bags stuffed with thongs and "Pink" clothing.

This is what I've been wanting ecommerce design to be. And it isn't. Not this year. Maybe someday web design will present an experience of pleasure. For now, the focus is on findability and marketing.

White lights vs colored lights is not even in line for debate.

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 12/28/2005 08:53:00 PM

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