The shopping metaphor

by Joe Gillespie — Dec 1, 1999

Let's look first at the online shopping metaphor:

  1. You go into a store and pick up a basket.
  2. You walk round the store and put whatever you need into the basket.
  3. You take the basket to the checkout and pay for your purchases.

There's nothing difficult about that.

Here's another metaphor as used by some of the catalog stores:

  1. You go into the store and find a catalog and order slip.
  2. You go through the catalog and write down the reference number of items you want on the order slip.
  3. You take the order slip to the checkout and pay.
  4. You pick-up your goods from the collection point.

So, why is it that, with the 'help' of a computer and dedicated programs, it is so much more difficult?

What has happened is that the programmers have analysed the processes and broken them down into steps - and left them broken down. The result is that you get one step per screen, a tedious wait, and then another step and another wait. If you are buying just one item, it is bad enough. If you are buying a list of items it gets extremely annoying.

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