Tuesday, May 5

Where are the great Shopping Carts/Checkout Pages?

You know, when I first started out in the Internet, there were all sorts of people doing what we now do so regularly. There were:
  • AOL - with their chat rooms
  • Compuserve - with their chat rooms and forums
  • Prodigy - with whatever they were doing
And a bunch of other people from schools like University of Illinois, Stanford and Carnege Mellon who were building webpages and services to index like MetaCrawler, WebCrawler, eXcite and some funky company called Yahoo!

Back then, I worked for Andersen Consulting (before they were Accenture) and became one of the Internet Architects. At that time, I had little knowledge about user experience, information architecture and all I thought about was generating requirements and building my app to meet them. At that time, I realized that eCommerce was going to be the key to the Internet and wnated to be part of that new wave.

I joined a company which, at that time, was the forefront of online purchases - ICVerify - which handled point-of-purchase credit card authorizations, and was the leader in the space. At that time, we talked about SET (secure electronic transactions) and other protocols that everyone and their mother wanted to own. Long past that time, those protocols all devolved into what we know today.

But the shopping experience was still the same - fill in your details and hit a button. It did not matter if the experience was long or short, clean or messy - as long as it was secure, it would happen. So, when people were asking about conversions - all that mattered were visitors and transactions.

Where Have All the CheckOut Designers Gone?

Today, almost 15 years later, we have all sorts of shopping experiences and not many of them make the experience much better or more palletable than what I experienced back with my Mosaic Browser and ICVerify software (which got bought by CyberCash which was bought by FDMS which was bought by Verisign, but I digress). Even a search on the web for some (if any guidance) gave me these pages:
All great checklists or complaints of the pain of checkout pages, but no good examples of quality checkout experiences or form design. As my client said, "Checkout Pages are the back-alley of the ecommerce process. No one really pays attention to them anyway."

I can not dine myself to believe this.

Where does one go to find this elusive expert/artisan?

UPDATE: one of my friends on twitter (@spencerfry) showed me Threadless who has a kick-ass interface design.


Paddy Mullen said...

I have been working with satchmo / django recently. Their checkout doesn't seem much different, but it does seem to be a very clean ecommerce suite. You'll be one of the first to know when our store is built.

Sanford Dickert said...

Wow - @whitneyhess showed me an old demo from Molecular that emphasizes some of the concepts I care about: