I didn't do much shopping this holiday season but when I did, I did it online. I'm frustrated by how poorly most e-commerce sites are designed especially when I know how good they could be. While I was waiting for YouTube to reject me for being too old, I was working on a project for a shopping dotcom, a search engine aggregator*. I realized something even more annoying about shopping online while on this project. This "web 2.0" company doesn't really do any user centered design at all. They dont do user testing or listening labs or any of that good user research stuff that actually makes a product nice. But they are successful nonetheless, I guess search enginges can constantly be 'tuned' so they work better. Perhaps that's OK, but their site could still be better. It's a cheap ass way to run a web business.
Then later I spoke to an Oldnavy.com designer about what it's like to design for that site. Basically any Gap website is designed to get you to purchase something "within three clicks". Gap Inc. obviously does lots and lots of user testing and user research. Again I was disappointed to hear that website's user experience isn't about making most oldnavy.com customers happy with the products they buy, or building a relationship with the brand, OR about creating an entertaining and sticky place to hang about online, it's just about volume.
I wonder if online shoppers will revolt when they finally figure out that nobody is remodeling the stores. When they realize that e-tailers just are not trying that hard for their business. And that they are being asked to spend their time as well as money to do more work for less in return.
* An aggregator is a search engine which combines many different searches, from different sites into one set of results.