E-Commerce Programming Is About to Get a Lot More Complicated - Page 2

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2005-02-21 Print this article Print

Lisa Arthur, the chief marketing officer for Akamai, puts some of the blame for site-serving-vs.-site-receiving disconnects on the many sites that have not had their “underlying infrastructure” redone since their initial e-commerce effort many years ago. “They haven’t overhauled their site to keep pace,” she said, citing the “growing complexity” of browsers, Web apps, rich media and other software. So where does all of this leave us? Whether the source is Jakob Nielsen or Henry David Thoreau, the advice for e-commerce site designers is “simplify.”
When a programmer throws out a very cool way to present a capability, envision what the page will look like if that clever visual breaks. Will it merely look ugly? Will the site visitor have no way to access the feature? Or will the absence blend into the background, giving the site visitor no clue that there even is something missing?
Staples.com is about to fundamentally redesign its e-commerce site, and it started with a radically redesigned rebate center. To read more, click here. But the “simplify” approach is a very short-term solution, as I’d never encourage e-commerce players to fine-tune their sites at 1997 tech levels and leave them there. Product demonstration animations, live chat tech support and other interactive capabilities are simply too informationally powerful to ignore. The only long-term answer is more extensive standardization, so that users opting for the most common platforms and app combos—including firewall, anti-spyware and ad blockers—get a consistent response. Failing that—and no columnist ever lost money betting that standards groups will take longer and be less effective than they should—we need to see better testing to anticipate likely conflicts. Whether that means customer testing in controlled environments or screen capture software in non-controlled environments, we need e-commerce sites to know how their customers see them—literally. Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman has tracked high-tech issues since 1987, has been opinionated long before that and doesnt plan to stop any time soon. He can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. To read earlier retail technology opinion columns from Evan Schuman, please click here. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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