Browsegoods.com

Browsegoods.com is an interesting approach to browsing for products on an ecommerce site. It applies a Google Maps-style interface where you see a bird’s-eye view of the high level categories and as you zoom in, you see subcategories until you eventually see products.
I can’t help but sigh when I see stuff like this. After about 90 seconds of “oh cool” you start to wonder about the usefulness of this sort of interface. If we step back a second and agree to overly generalize, you’ve got two types of shopping users: the “seeker’ that is looking for an exact product and the “browser” that is looking for something in a general category (“I really need a winter coat…”).
Through either user’s eyes, this interface is annoying and potentially obtrusive. If the seeker wants a specific model of something, they’re gonna drop it in the search box. Just make the search smart enough to get him there. If the browsing user wants a winter coat, make it ridiculously easy to jump to that category – whether through a nice laundry list of categories or just by typing “winter coats” in the search box. Neither user really wants to have a simulated flight over a landscape of shoes.
I think this further highlights the raw power of the humble search box. If that search box is smart, it’ll outdo any whiz-bang interface. Just ask Google.

7 Comments Browsegoods.com

  1. Aran

    I agree completely. This would be a clear example of Web2.0 gone awry if it wasn’t for the fact that the idea of using an overhead museum map as a site navigation tool is much more of a Web1.0 concept.

    Reply
  2. Neil

    Thanks for writing about Browsegoods.com. I understand your concerns. The site does have search, so you can take advantage of the “humble search box”. The search is far from perfect, but it will drop you into the products of interest.

    Reply
  3. Rich Ziade

    Neil:
    Man, I wasn’t expecting the people behind it to comment on here. Now I feel bad! :P
    It’s really a well-executed site, but out of curiosity – why go this route? Did you have user data that showed people liked navigating this way etc?
    Also, I think if you could present this view against real criteria that people cared about : for example – shoe color, or price – that might be more useful. If I could focus in on the $100-$150 region for example.
    I like the notion of showing filtered results in a non-linear format, which you’re on your way towards here.

    Reply
  4. Chris D

    Jumping in where I probably don’t belong. Huzzah!
    If I could step into Neil’s shoes for a moment, and also play the role of capitalist web developer (with no soul!) for a moment.
    The question is: Why -not- go this route? OK, maybe people will get annoyed over time. But the ROI on the possible use of this application is pretty huge. Think of it like this:
    It looks like this app makes heavy use of the Amazon ECS API. If I’m correct, then once this app is finished, it will automatically update based on information from amazon. The cool part about this? No administration necessary. It just runs, with no work necessary.
    A constant amount of time to build the app can bring continued revenue for years! Even if it’s a fairly niche audience of users who might only use it once or twice, that’s pretty nice.
    Bottom line, it’ll probably be profitable. And I think that’s probably a good enough reason to build it.

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  5. Neil

    Rich:
    We like critiques; it forces us to think and that can’t be bad.
    The data that is out there is for offline shopping and there is plenty of it. For example, more than half the people who go to a mall go to browse.
    Filtering is in the works.
    As to Chris’s comments, while the site does use the Amazon API and is based on algorithms for layout and generating the interface, we aren’t quite at the point where we can just sit back and collect the money. We built it because we believed that it was too hard to discover products on all the shopping sites we had tried. We wanted to make shopping more fun. We also thought we could build a business based on that innovation.

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  6. Jeremy

    I actually bought a pair of Bacco Bucci’s using the site last week. Took me a few minutes to figure out the dragging nature of the panels…but once I got used to it I fell in love with its window shopping appeal. Sometimes I just don’t know what I want until I see it.

    Reply
  7. Jeremy

    I actually bought a pair of Bacco Bucci’s using the site last week. Took me a few minutes to figure out the dragging nature of the panels…but once I got used to it I fell in love with its window shopping appeal. Sometimes I just don’t know what I want until I see it.

    Reply

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