Back from Chicago. A round-up

posted by Jason Kottke Dec 04, 1999

Back from Chicago. A round-up of things from the journey:

- Overall, the conference was good, but not excellent. No real insight was in evidence, but it was solid stuff.

- The process of getting a non-Web company online is less about putting that company on the Web as it is a balance between experimenting with what that company could/should be doing on the Web and minimizing the risk of screwing things up.

- Pretty graphics with no thought put towards usability, communication, and interface design is like putting lipstick on a pig. (paraphrased from comments by John Christ, USWeb/CKS)

- USWeb/CKS uses the Rational Rose visual modelling tool when building sites.

- "various chutneys"

- The traditional model of innovation is that innovation is a slow process, with innovations occuring infrequently and sequentially. The Internet is allowing for discontinuous innovation with several innovations occuring at once.

- Every company is becoming a service company.

- The Lands' End Web site has some excellent examples of customer support. The help page provides lots of options the customer can use to resolve their problems, Lands' End Live provides real-time support over the phone or via chat, and they will even send you fabric swatches so that you can actually feel what your shirt or sweater is going to look and feel like before you buy.

- "[In presentation of site mockups to the client], no one is clamoring to see the shopping cart." - Rich Giuliani, Creative Director for Quantum Leap Communications

- People don't ask the right questions. Search engines are often not useful because of this, whereas librarians are because of the live interaction between the searcher and librarian. Through experience, I've learned how to ask the right question (or use the right query string, if you will) of the search engines that I use. Most Web users don't have that experience....so how can search engines become smarter and get people to ask the right questions?

- If the big dot commerce players have their way, the process of shopping in the physical world will be replaced by the process of defining who you are, where you live, what you like, and what you own so that they can then do your shopping for you (like Amazon's recommendations, only on a grander scale). So all that time you previously spent in the car on the way to the mall and back will now be spent in front of your computer making lists and setting preferences.

- My plane was 4 hours late on Friday night...I didn't get home until 3:30 am. I was Jack's sense of disbelief at the extent to which my week sucked.