Thursday, November 26, 2009

'Just browsing' ain't easy on the web...

It's time to start thinking about getting ready for the holiday season, and that means picking out the remaining gifts that I need for family and friends.

It reminded me of the time when I was consulting full-time at various client sites in downtown San Francisco. I'd step out for lunch and frequently walk around just to get some fresh air. Frequently, I'd be walking down the street, see an interesting store window and say to myself: "Hah! That book [or piece of jewelry or...] would be perfect for my friend." and I'd drop in to take a closer look and frequently purchase just the right thing.

Now that I'm working more out of my office, I don't get out that much, so those opportunities don't present themselves as much as they used to. Making a point of going to a store and walking around with the intent of finding gifts somehow never gives quite the same feeling of getting that 'perfect' thing.

My local Starbucks barrista mentioned that it was a bit of a challenge to get what you wanted on the internet and it suddenly struck me that she was absolutely right: the internet is great for finding something when you know what you want, but it's not so good for casually looking around... for just browsing.

Stores are an organized jumble of different products from different companies all arranged higglety-pigglety according to the store's and the vendor's needs, and you walk from one aisle to another and you can go through a complete category change. Leather briefcases yield to belts and those to accessories and on to underwear... it's almost like a walk thru "The Medici Effect" in real-time with a corresponding unconscious effect on one's thinking about what to get for whom.

I wonder when someone will figure out how to implement 'just browsing' on the web?

No comments:

Post a Comment