Thursday, October 29, 2009

Web design: e-commerce

Reason for choosing this book

I buy a lot of stuff online from textbook to snowboard gear, and if I think about it, the one main reason that I buy online is because it is cheap.
As Patrick Bultema, CEO of Code baby said in the lecture, competition to the cheapest price is getting more intense. Main reason is that there might be cheaper price for same product literally two clicks away. Nobody buys from complicated, boring site (you just go to different web site to buy the same product even if it had the cheapest price). I think eye catching, user friendly web site is what makes the difference in this competitive environment if you don’t want to be the cost leader.
And that’s why I wanted to see how companies are handling this issue; making it unique and eye catching, but still easy to navigate through the site.

Book summary

The book is not a instructional one at all. It is more like portfolio of many companies’ successful cutting edge website. Each companies’ sites are analyzed and presented as cases.
Examples include, O’niell, Victoria’s secret, IKEA online retail, Office chair retailer, racing bike retailer, Record shop, etc. Analysis on each case is rather lacking depth though. They go through mainly the design and rational behind it, but nothing about technical side of creating that website. The second half of the book was double page spreads of home pages and screenshots of innovative web sites. Examples includes big companies like Ford motors and Jet blue to small ones such as Threadless (T-shirt company), fragrance shop, skateboard shop, etc. I got the impression that this book is more like art book, which is used for references and inspiration, but not for a guide to create one.

Author qualification

Julius Wiedemann studied graphic design and marketing in Brazil.
After that he works several years in Japan as editor and director for digital and design magazine. He joins Taschen (Publisher) as editor in charge in 2001. He has been creating a number of title in variety of subject such as design, advertising, communication, technology, and digital culture. Also, he has been a speaker of many events such as Institute of contemporary arts and Belgrade design week last couple of years. He has Sold over one million copies of his publication sold world-wide. Plenty of experience and knowledge in web design field.

primary value and weakness

Strength of this book is definitely the visual. All pictures are in colors and printed on thick nice pages. Also, it is very cheap relative to quality of the book.
This book will be a really good source of reference, inspiration, and sample work for experienced audiences. If audience cares to go visit the real site, It will significantly enhance the experience because it is so much easier to understand by experiencing the user friendliness yourself than reading.
Most of them were in fact user friendly with really eye catching design as the book says, with few exceptions.
Some of them were too elaborated in design and reduced customer friendliness as a result. Thus, you can easily and effectively study customer friendliness of cutting edge websites if you use the book and the real experience. I would say this is the primary value of this book.


Overall, this book is fun, smart, stylish, and has full of visuals (It is design book after all). Even though you can’t use this book for learning technical side, I would say it is not a bad one to own. Considering that most of the other web design books focus on technical side, I would recommend this book as supplement source for other bigger and thicker web design books.

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