Most of the times, making a usable product also requires you to have enhanced feature set. At the minimum, there shouldn’t be any annoyances. The best way is to create a feedback mechanisms for user themselves to tell what they want. If you are able to have that channel in place, you can innovate on demand and keep users coming back.
Following can be things you can start right away, without waiting for your users to suggest you.
1. Search should be intelligent.
– It should be able to pick spelling mistakes and abbreviations (MS Office)
– Classify the search term. Many a times the search term itself has filters in it. Is there a company name mentioned (nokia)? Or a specific product (Nokia N-97)? or an general term with category(Cheap Phones) and take directly to the appropriate page with an option to view all results
– As-you-type suggestions can be a great help. A lot of improvements are possible here as well.
2. Login. Why?
– Let user shop without registering and make either email or mobile mandatory.
– If you want them to register, explain what will they get
– embrace standards like OpenID, Yahoo and Google Auth.
– A feedback link should always be there, accessible which can be used to report any discrepancy such as incorrect data etc. (automatically detect user’s environment and page he is on and don’t waste his time asking such questions)
– Assure them that their feedback will be actually cared about and acted upon. And do act upon it.
4. Good help (possibly a wiki)
– An active community will be able to help themselves and a wiki is a good way to create a help section. Every body in your organizations and power user can edit it.
– For issues not in the help, provide an easy way to reach support.
– Have properly trained customer service reps, as they are the one who can spoil it all.
What’s your opinion?
[This is actually a comment that Anshul left on my earlier article (Key Elements in Designing an eCommerce Product), but it deserves to be a post in itself!]