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Like water for shopping

posted by DL Byron on June 01, 2006

In an article about Jet Blue’s new JKF terminal, Jessie Green studies the behavior of crowds in the city, buildings, airports and how design can choreograph movement.

Retailers have long studied crowd behavior and use it to determine where to place aisles, impulse items, and check out lanes (Apple Store’s have that down). The architectural insights in the article from Jerry Mitchel and David Rockwell are to think of crowd flow like white-water rafting: “follow the water because it avoids the rocks.”

Avoiding the rocks also applies to project work (see a flowing approach at Kinkless GTD ) and I hope eventually shopping cart design. The pixie dust of Amazon.com is that it’s a bazaar with millions of items all over the place that can be easily bought with one-click. Same thing with iTunes that uses Amazon’s technology. For all those other carts, including our own at Clip-n-Seal, I hope the hype of Web 2.0 will eventually lead to easier shopping. I often note when speaking how it’s been like 12 years of shopping on the web and it’s still entirely too hard to do with lots of rapids, rocks, no flow. Try buying something at REI as an example or Nordstroms or anyone else that isn’t iTunes or Amazon.

I hope the next generation of web developers eventually focus their code on shopping. Just imagine what a 37 Signals shopping widget would look like — it’d be a whole lot less of all that a shopper doesn’t need. Or if Mike Davidson added shopping to Newsvine. Simple, flowing, like water around rocks, a simpler bag clip a better jewelbox, or a Jimi Wallet.

Comments (2)
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Jun 06  |  Tim said:

Interesting entry, I agree entirely. I was blogging yesterday about the public spaces being built by the Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Awards Landscape winner. Her stuff looks good, but it’s almost entirely unfriendly to the people who want to use it. Do you think the volume of sales at Amazon or iTunes are that much higher as a result of the ease of making a sale? I’m leaning that way. Have you ever seen a frustrated shopper put down their basket while waiting in line for a checker, then walk right out the door?

Jun 07  |  -b- said:

Thanks. I was just thinking out loud there, but coincidentally, shopify just launched promising a better car experience. Problem is, it’s their eccommerce and we’ve got enough problems convincing shoppers that Paypal is safe.

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