markpasc (markpasc) wrote,

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The Things I

I quicklinked on my weblog about web-wide wishlist site The Things I last night as "not so wonderful," so I thought I'd enumerate what exactly I don't like about it. Some of these are interface issues, and while they seem kinda obvious to me, ideally they could do some cheap usability testing to see if I would lead them astray or not; I don't expect all my suggestions would be bad though, especially as some of them are things that would've waved flags were I participating in a usability test.

  • It makes you input the price manually. Couldn't it scrape the page for [\$]\s*\d+(\.\d{2})? or something (with all appropriate symbols optional where the $ is)? I guess it can't really do that with JavaScript like it gets the document URL though. Putting the price in yourself means any changes won't be updated in your list. Maybe "Leave the price blank to look for it in the item page," and only make (or let!) you put a price in if it can't find one. If it found the price on the page, it'd periodically fetch the page to check for changes.
  • The price entry box is rigid enough that it complained when I put in "$13". Numbers only. Yeah, so I was making the form read "$13 Dollars," but what do I care? Prices have a symbol in front.
  • It displays the price as "13 USD." Should use currency symbols for display as well as input. (Should it do currency conversions, like have an "I'm an American" setting for viewers and convert? I'm not sure where it could get current rates programmatically.)
  • More structured metadata. There should probably be a "by" field, for artists, authors, and brands, rather than lumping everything together in the item title. There should also be a comments field separate from title; they encourage you to enter comments in the title, but I'm not going to put asides and personal commentary in there like I did in Amazon's comments field.
  • It gets the picture for Amazon items somehow, but I don't think it's using the Amazon API because it doesn't get the price automatically, even for Amazon items. Amazon API would allow for richer data, like the "by" field, easier price updates than scraping, and all the Amazonian "You might also like" stuff.
  • As you can get wishlists by Amazon API, it should have a one-button "import my Amazon wishlist" option. Most of building my list was copying my Amazon and ThinkGeek lists over.
  • It doesn't use Amazon API to get data for non-Amazon items. I would think it could maybe see the isbn=XYZ in the Powells URL for Supercade and know to fetch the price and Amazon that way. AllConsuming sees it, after all.
  • Automatically link books to both Amazon (showing the price as "$20 at," for example) as well as Is there any similar thing for music?
  • It uses JavaScript to warn you about editing the item URL, but reloads the page when you're changing the order of items. It could use DOM manipulation to change the order dynamically in supporting browsers (the Mozilla hive and, IIRC, IE 5.5+), then have a "save order" button at the bottom.
  • They did, however, have quite a few buttons at the bottom. I don't recall what they all did. Maybe some icons would help.
  • Web service interface out. I originally found the link on the Movable Type support forum, so there should be an MT plugin for it already, but there isn't.
  • The pages have small fonts and look ugly, but I have rigorous and unusual ideas about page design.
  • The list editing page has all these fiddly links on the right of each item for doing things. Instead of a "modify" option that goes to a form for the one item, it should have the fields displayed in a form instead of as page text (you know, like Amazon does). Instead of a dropdown for moving the item in the list, it should have pictorial buttons (that do DOM manipulation, as mentioned).
  • The list viewing page has "Buy it!" and "View it!" links on the right. Clicking the item title (and especially the picture--people like clicking pictures) should do one of those.
  • The "Shopping list" thing. I don't want a webwide shopping list (at least if more shops offered cart saving like Yahoo Stores do), just the wishlist. Then the "Shopping list" comes first in the list, so whenever you use the bookmarklet to add an item to your wish list, you have to select wish list instead of shopping list.

Cool things it does do:

  • It does get the images for Amazon items, which is doubtless some work if they aren't using Amazon API. Come to think of it, would it be legal to use the Amazon API to compete with their wishlist option? If Amazon Light doesn't transgress, though, I would guess not; anything to get people to buy more at Amazon.
  • "Sort alphabetically" and "Sort by price" items to quickly reorder the list.
  • Bookmarklet convenience.

Possible additional features:

  • Speaking of Yahoo Stores, is there some kind of Yahoo Store integration it could do? I put items from one Yahoo Store in my list, but I'm not sure what kind of efficiency they could offer (price updates? search all Yahoo Stores for this?). For that matter, is there anything cool it could do with eBay?
  • Friends listing. I should get an email like from LiveJournal that friend X's birthday is coming up (coming up, of course, not on the day). I'm curious how to do this well; LiveJournal is the only site I can think of that does it at all. Could you possibly import/monitor a LiveJournal friends list or blogroll, then auto-add folks as friends as they join the service? (That's easier with LiveJournal; how do you know what part of a web page is the blogroll? What if they give an alternate URL to their weblog?)
  • "Add these URLs to my list." Populate the items with page titles and scrape for prices, then bump to the list editing page where the user can fix the title, add comments, etc.
  • Bayesian this-that beyond Amazon's.

If I had the time or thought people would pay a small subscription fee for this service done right (and if it's not against Amazon API agreement to build wishlisting with it, as that's where a chunk of the cool stuff comes from), I'd look into building one myself. (Some of the features seem to involve a lot of HTTP out...)

Poll #139600 Would you pay?

Would you pay $5 for three months of such a wishlist service?

No, I'm not interested in wishlists
No, but I would use a free wishlist service
No, but I might pay less
Yes, and more!

If more or less, how much would you pay?

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