Spool rolls away

Jared Spool's current UIEtips newsletter features an article about categorization - Strategies for Categorizing Categories - which I imagine he'll post on his website some day. At any rate, in this article he talks about looking at several ecommerce sites to see if certains types of categorization schemes worked better than others when it came to customers locating and buying items from a list given to them. The result of the study was that Land's End has the best categorization scheme because the most people bought the most stuff successfully from them.

"Lands' End used a design that had both product descriptions and departments."

Old Navy was the next best performer in the study: "Old Navy used a combination department and gallery page where sometimes the left nav contains galleries and sometimes it contains products."

Whatever. Since I don't have access to the data, or the protocols, I have no way of evaluating if these are appropriate, or even meaningful, rankings.

But reading on, I came to this paragraph, which made me question once again whether Spool has a clue about how to analyze the research he conducts:

"The pictures on Lands' End's department page were helpful sometimes and ignorable the rest. Seeing a picture of a "twinset" helps identify
what it is, whereas the pictures of "Fine Gauge Cotton" and regular "Cotton" could be swapped and nobody would probably notice or care (except Lands' End's buyers). This means that content that doesn't lend itself to pictures (such as diseases) doesn't really need them -- it's not a necessary part of this specific design."

First of all, I bet Lands' End's online sales would plummet without pictures of the items for sale. Would you buy something, particularly clothing or home decor items, without knowing what it looks like? I sure wouldn't unless it was something I buy over and over. Just because Spool can't see the difference between a sweater made in cotton vs. fine-gauge cotton doesn't mean most people can't. And, since he didn't test to see if pictures make a difference, he shouldn't present his opinions as research findings. If it's his opinion, he should say so.

Then he says content that doesn't lend itself to pictures - he cites diseases as an example - doesn't really need them. Since he cited diseases, I can only conclude that he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about when it comes to whether or specific content lends itself to pictures or not. Pictures are essential in content about diseases - whether it's a picture of a rash or an organism or the effects of a disease or all of them.

It's these stupid, blanket comments Spool makes that leads me to discount his work. Makes me wonder what ecommerce websites he's designed - or which companies have implemented all of his recommendations and showed a significant ROI as a result.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/07/02 at 05:26 PM
Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Next entry: who woulda thunk ...

Previous entry: keeping track of bushisms

<< Back to main