February 17, 2010, 12:00 AM

Online retailers should strive for simplicity amid a complex web, Kobo says

As the web becomes more complex, online retailers should resist the temptation to stuff their sites with features that make shopping more difficult for consumers, says Pamela Hilborn, user experience director for e-book retailer Kobo.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Lead Photo

As the web becomes more complex, online retailers should resist the temptation to stuff their sites with features that make shopping more difficult for consumers, Pamela Hilborn, user experience director for e-book retailer Kobo Inc., said Thursday at the Internet Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability 2010 Conference.

Speaking in a session entitled “The Future Today: A Baby-Step Approach to Web 2.0,” Hilborn cautioned online retailers to manage the complexity of their sites as the web continues its moves from a relatively top-down and flat experience to one driven by blogs, social networks, videos and other features central to Web 2.0. Kobo, which launched its redesigned web page in December, has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and a feature that enables consumers to build a virtual book shelf from digital representations of book covers. Kobo also allows shoppers to read full sample chapters of books instead of a few pages, she said.

“The less you ask the user to do, the more likely they are to adapt to your new tools,” she said. “Avoid feature overkill.”

She advised retailers to show info to users when they are ready to see it rather than assault them with data and features all at once.

Canada-based Indigo Books & Music Inc. in 2010 spun off its e-book unit, Shortcovers, and rebranded it as Kobo.

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