links for 2007-08-01

“Save for Later?” I don’t think so.

I’m sure Amazon knows much better than me, but I’m going to pontificate anyway. As anyone who works with me knows, I heavily subscribe to the 37signals-style simplicity movement. Every move I make at work (in product design, etc) is aimed toward simplicity. I’m also a data head (according to my fellow Web Geeks at work), so the idea of divergent data bothers me.
Amazon is fantastic, but I think their Wish List system has gotten much too complicated. Surely you jest, Mr. Palmer! Hear me out.
I went on Amazon today to pick out books to read while in Japan. I picked out five books, all of which I will search for at the used book store tomorrow. So I didn’t want to purchase today, but found I had way too many options to defer my purchase. I could add to a Wish List (of which I can have multiples), add to my Cart (and leave it there), add to my Cart then “Save for Later” or add to a Gift List.
See what I mean? Those are just the options to defer my purchase. I haven’t even catalogued the methods to actually buy something.
Here’s my suggestion (and again, Amazon probably knows better). Pare this down to a combined “intentions” system under the “Wishlist” moniker. Save for Later probably works well because the items are still in your “Cart,” so you’re more likely to buy them or tack them on to a later purchase. Wish Lists work because they capture an emotional desire to own/consume something, but aren’t so intimidating as to make you feel you’re putting off a purchase.
The “Save for Later” button in your Cart would add the item to your wish list (rather than keeping it in a separate system), but also lightly suggest it during subsequent checkouts. Why? Because you came closer to buying it, so you’re more likely to do so in the future.
That’d be a new feature (I think, right?) – add-on purchase suggestions during checkout. You’d be shown suggestions of items you might want to tack on to your purchase. They wouldn’t show you just any items from your wish list, but those that are maybe 20% under your average item cost in addition to “Save for Later” items. If you can hit a sweet spot for add-on purchase prices, sales would increase; it might even be worth it to tie this into the Super-Saver shipping program by suggesting items that would make the transaction qualify for free shipping.
As for Wish Lists, make them simpler! Wish Lists themselves are too complicated. Rate 1-5 how much you’d *really* like to receive this item. What Wish List does this belong in? How do I access my Wish List(s)? Why isn’t it easy to add an item from one during checkout?
If only 5% of your customers are using comments and ratings in Wish Lists, get rid of them. I can’t imagine a large amount of people use either of those features, and it’s usually worth making the system less intimidating for customers. Go back to having one Wish List, but perhaps make it taggable.
Here’s the lesson. Every time the web gets simpler, more people use it. The more people use it, the more things people buy. Amazon is the undisputed leader in online commerce, but I think they could create a more useful, but simpler “intentions” system that made customers feel less intimidated and encouraged more purchasing.
But what do you think? Is Amazon too complex?

Journaling My Trip to Japan

So, Web 2.0 geeks. What’s your favorite way to post journals, memories, and photos of a vacation? I’ll be in Japan for several weeks and I’m thinking there’s got to be a tool out there to post a good summary and photos.
I’ll probably just use this blog combined with Flickr, but is there something better out there that I should try?

Japan … T-Minus 10 Days!

I can’t believe it – in less than two weeks I’ll be in Japan! I still have a lot of work to do to feel ready for the trip, but I’m kind of expecting that I won’t feel ready at all.
Matt found this great travelogue of someone who took a similar route to ours. We’ll be there a few days longer, but will be going to most of the same cities. Rather than go with a packaged tour, we planned the trip ourselves – I’ll let you know how that works out.
We’ve decided to spend a good portion of our time in Japan staying in traditional Japanese Ryokan Inns, interspersed with western-style hotels.
We’re starting off with a few days in Tokyo and then traveling along the west coast of Honshu for a few days in the country. We want to experience Tokyo’s famous nightlife and some of the more famous sites, like the Imperial Palace and the national Diet.
We’re staying in a traditional grass hut style inn Shirakawa-go, then a night in Kanazawa. By Japanese standards, Kanazawa is considered small, but it’s actually not much smaller than DC!
From there, we’re spending a few days in each Kyoto and Osaka. I’m looking forward to seeing the ancient Imperial Palace in Kyoto (we’ll see the main palace in Tokyo) and we’ll also be there for the Gozan no Okuribi, which features giant bonfires on the hills surrounding the city. Osaka is considered the gourmet food capital of Japan, so I’m hoping we find some great regional cuisine there.
After Osaka we’re going to go to Hiroshima for a few days. There was some debate as to whether that would be worth it – apparently there’s not much there above and beyond the World Heritage Site and the Peace Memorial. It’s a bit out of the way, but we decided it was worth it.
We’ll spend a night in Nara before returning to Tokyo for a few days. In Nara, we’re apparently staying at one of the nicest Ryokan Inns around, which should be fantastic. Ryokans are known for their gourmet food, gardens, hot springs, and luxurious accommodations. I’m looking forward to seeing that all in Nara, as well as the apparently enormous deer population that wanders around the city.
Finally, we’re spending three days at the Intercontinental in Tokyo, just basically relaxing and enjoying our final few days in Japan before the ridiculously long flight back to the States.

links for 2007-07-28

links for 2007-07-27