What Barnes & Noble could have said

Company CEO Marie Toulantis on Barnes & Noble’s new web site redesign: (via RWW)

“We wanted our site to have more motion, more content and more interactivity, and to have more of a sense of community”

Granted this is only a single sentence, but it happened to be the one they’re getting press with. And what a quote it is! It highlights the struggle that so many web sites out there have: to communicate why their site is better at doing what people actually need from it.

Barnes and Noble

So, what people end up asking themselves is: “does motion, content, and/or interactivity get me better books? Does it let me shop easier? Faster? Cheaper? Can I find more books on the topics I’m interested in?”

The answer is No…

Company CEO Marie Toulantis on Barnes & Noble’s new web site redesign: (via RWW)

“We wanted our site to have more motion, more content and more interactivity, and to have more of a sense of community”

Granted this is only a single sentence, but it happened to be the one they’re getting press with. And what a quote it is! It highlights the struggle that so many web sites out there have: to communicate why their site is better at doing what people actually need from it.

Barnes and Noble

So, what people end up asking themselves is: “does motion, content, and/or interactivity get me better books? Does it let me shop easier? Faster? Cheaper? Can I find more books on the topics I’m interested in?”

The answer is No. Those things don’t have anything to do with a better book shopping experience. They’re just marketing fluff…they’re just words from someone without a clear vision for the site. They represent the disconnect between a business strategy and a design strategy…surely Barnes & Noble knows how to sell books…why can’t their online property learn from their always-crowded stores?

So what could Toulantis have said?

“Shop at Barnes & Noble to find your next favorite book. Use our “See Inside” feature to browse a book online, just like you do at a our stores”.

Ok, so now we’ve told people what’s in it for them, finding their next favorite book. Second, we’ve told them how to do that by introducing a new feature that allows them to browse a book online just like they do in the store. So…people don’t have to do anything new…they just do what they’ve always done. No change. Just improvement.

And, this quote has the added benefit of reminding people that Barnes & Noble has a huge advantage over Amazon…they have stores. Which brings up the question: what can Barnes & Noble do to leverage their stores? How can they make the experience better than it is on Amazon?

I don’t know what the answer is, but it sure as heck isn’t to add more “motion”. When Barnes & Noble figures it out, they should shout it from the rooftops. It should be the first words out of Toulantis’ mouth at every single press event going forward. And most importantly it should be obvious on their web site.

Published: October 3rd, 2007

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