Shopping Carts for Content
March 28, 2002

Looking for Using Wireframes?. It is here.

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The "shopping cart" is a ubiquitous metaphor on the web. Everyone understands it (as Jakob will tell you). You browse product pages and when they find something you want to buy, you hit the button that adds the item to their shopping cart. Later when you are done shopping around, you proceed to "Check out" your shopping cart.

Other established tools are "Printer-friendly version of this page" and "Email this page". I get really annoyed at sites that have text content as their bread-and-butter who do not offer these two simple services.

So why hasn't anyone put the two together?

USAGE SCENARIO

I surf around a site that offers text heavy content such as news or articles, and the pages I am interested in, I save to my virtual "Manila Folder." When I am done surfing for content, I go to a page where I can see a list of all the documents I have saved along the way and have them emailed to me, either as a list of links to the original articles online, or a big text document.

My grandfather used to keep meticulous newspaper clippings in volumes of big black binders. Why shouldn't the New York Times offer an onlines service that mimics this and allow for more user-centric content retrieval?

What would this be called? "My clippings"?

EXAMPLES

Here are a couple of sites that I have seen that have features similar to what I have described:

Epicurious

http://food.epicurious.com/run/recipe/view?regen=t&addid=true&id=106325

Once you have found the recipe you are looking for, as one of the options you can "Save to your recipe box" that you can use to collect recipes. This is great, however there is no way to email all the recipes that you have selected at once. You still need to go back to the recipe page then email it there. It's really nothing more than a convenient location for a collection of favorite URL's.


iLor

http://www.ilor.com/searchilor.lor?q=information+architecture

This is a search engine powered by AskJeeves (used to be Google, alas no more), that provides the option of saving search results through a small menu box that pops up when you mouse over the link (the option is called "put on my list"). This saves the link to a list in another window that you can then email to yourself or make favorites in your browser.

This is a great research tool which vastly improves the experience of researching material on a search engine.


New York Public Library

http://catnyp.nypl.org/search/a?SEARCH=auster%2C+paul

The closest implementation to what I've described. It allows for selected search results to be saved across multiple search iterations and emailed, in full, brief or "Pro-cite" formats.

The email format is very raw and the fact that if you save more than 12 items, you can't see them is a little annoying.



Comments

I wonder what programs interaction designers use to produce wireframes? I've used indesign and visio and are not truly happy withe either. Since I use a PC Omnigraffle is no option. Advice please!

Posted by: drea on January 11, 2005 06:34 AM

Hi Drea,

I usually use (don't laugh) excel! the reason i use it is because it's already got a grid, and boxes and text is really easy to manipulate in it. I've also used Macromedia Freehand, but I still find Excel to be the best for me. I'm picky enough that the end result is the same either way, so I am always open to use the easier route.

One thing though. i would never provide a client with an excel document. That would be tacky. I turn my excel documents into PDFs and show them that way.

Posted by: Denise on February 21, 2005 02:53 AM

Incidentally, I noticed recently that the NYTimes website eliminated the option to email entire articles...you can only email the link + abstract...I guess you could cut and paste from the printer-friendly format, but...

Posted by: kmouse on March 8, 2005 12:13 AM
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