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Friday, April 28, 2006

Ultimate Online Shopping

Years ago when I was at Kelkoo, I thought about what would make the ultimate online shopping experience and drew a diagram to visualise it.

What we have seen since then is the gradual evolution into this nirvana by the major shopping players. Price comparison can find you the best price and show you where to buy and now even do product comparison to compare features. There are some opinions sites such as Ciao that let users submit merchant and product reviews too.

So, is there anything still missing? Does online shopping have anywhere to go now? Of course it does...

The trick now is helping people find what to buy by leveraging the power of crowds and showing the buzz around products. How many of us go with recommendations from friends or trusted people (colleagues or magazine reviews)? What about when we go into a music store - how many of you go the bestsellers section first to give you an idea of what everyone else is buying?

Bestsellers can also be misleading as why would the product with the most sales necessarily be the best one for you. Sometimes we see a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby the top product is the most visible, sells more, and thus stays in the top slot. What if product buzz was measured by active recommendations from users and how much discussion was based around it?

Social Shopping 2.0 - here we come!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Men in Black (grey)

Yes - we're actually in suits! We call it "a day with lawyers" where we travelled all over London to discuss representation of the business in terms of privacy policies, and terms and conditions. Rivetting stuff.

It is an interesting topic as all the talk of web 2.0 sharing of data is great for users and businesses alike as long as the legal side of things are taken care of.

We have also secured a nice new office in Waterloo too and turned it into a Starbucks hotdesk. I'll explain more when I get a photo to show you what I mean :-)

Monday, April 17, 2006

New Design

I hope everyone had a good Easter and you are still enjoying your long break of chocolate munching and sunshine bathing. I also had my birthday yesterday which makes me feel older as I enter my last year of the 20's. Sigh!

Enough of that! Chris and I thought it was about time we got a really good professional designer on board to create a look and feel for the new business. Things sound promising at the moment but we'll see what comes out of it over the next few weeks. Everytime we get a good example or screenshot to show you, we'll put it right here.

There are some great ideas for improving usability and incorporating some better features, based on the last month or so of seeing everyone use the site.

You may also have noticed that we have closed the Alpha sign-up process for now as we have acquired enough trialists at this stage. Hopefully after the new design and a few more tweaks, we may be ready to open it up again.

Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Voyage of the Alpha

Well, sorry it has been so long since our last posting. We've been beavering away on some new functionality and getting some loose ends together in order to make ourselves into an official company along with a small office!! Wahaay.

We've signed up over 40 close friends and family to test out the product and want to say thanks to all of them for their help and time so far.

Some of the new features that Chris has put live over the last few weeks include:

  • Buzz
  • - an area of the site where we are experimenting with showing users the activity and buzz around various products and users. Examples are "top 5 digital cameras ranked by buzz", "most active users", "newest products", and so forth. It's a really good way of seeing many "window" on the world of Crowdstorm.
  • Who recommended this..
  • - below every product main description, you will see a new section showing you all the users who have recommended that product.
  • Tag Cloud Improvements
  • - the tag cloud now updates itself when you perform a search or click one of the tag items from a main page, so that it shows the attributes of a tag range. For example, if you now click "digitalcamera", you will see the buzziest results for this tag while the cloud updates to show shared tags within that range "megapixel", "ccd", "sony" ...
  • User Stats
  • - on the user profile page you can see some stats about your activity on the site such as how many products you have recommended, commented on, and added / edited.
  • Breadcrumb Trail
  • - see where you are in the great scheme of things.
  • Feedback Button
  • - we have ajaxmagically created a "send us your feedback" button on the home page (bottom right) for you to write any comments / suggestions in the box provided and just click "send" to invoke the pigeon messaging service.

You may also have noticed that the digital camera space is now getting very populated and we'll be asking everyone to start commenting and recommending some cameras very soon to see which are the buzziest.