Saturday, December 15, 2007

eBay plans user experience changes, but is it enough?

Will changes improve the eBay experience? ...

"I spotted an interesting article in the Washington Post, which looks at online auction giant eBay and its plans to improve the user experience in 2008.

The story focuses on eBay’s proposed introduction of a shipping fees ratings scheme, to clamp down on sellers who charge bargain basement prices but make profits on exorbitant delivery ‘costs’.

All good, but what about the improvements that eBay’s website has been in need of for a considerable time? Adding functionality and tweaking its ranking algorithms are one thing, but what I think it needs is some proper usability testing and a bit of a makeover.

eBay has always been in a weird place when it comes to its website, which consistently suffers from poor usability, despite what Meg Whitman thinks. What should it do? Change a winning model? Or continue doing what it does best? There’s a risk involved, either way.

The company has broadly opted for the latter. If it ain’t broke, I guess. eBay is clearly very good at online auctions, and in the absence of any significant competition the culture might be one of ‘stand still, because we don’t need to move’. Which translates as: ‘to hell with sexy interfaces and above-the-fold feature filtering’.

Change isn’t normally something people like, so it makes some kind of sense to maintain familiarity. Yet eBay hasn’t changed for, give or take, the best part of a decade. It is a bit of an enigma in this respect.

Think about it. eBayers seem to be a relatively happy-go-lucky bunch who seem to enjoy the overall experience of finding bargains, taking part in auctions, or simply windowshopping. For them, the experience is all about the products on offer. But perhaps in 2007 these people expect a bit more from a web experience?"    (Continued via E-consultancy)    [Usability Resources]

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