This is a question I have been mulling in my head for a few weeks now – somewhat passively…and certainly not so much that I would call and interrogate them. Iospace are the clever geniuses behind the ever-growing Etsy.com, a site for independent crafties and artists to display and sell their wares to the rest of us.
The evil genius in Etsy.com isn’t only that they offer access to such a diverse community of talented creators – it is how they have managed to tackle issues of organization, UI, and search for many thousands of pieces of user-generated content. Search on this site is definitely about the journey more than the destination – with visualizations that not only let you discover items by tag, but by color, time, artist location, and artist/item metric. If fact, it is hard to STOP searching at times because the experience is so intriguing.
The shining star of this site is their Treasury, a “member-curated featured items” collection of temporal lists. The Etsy community shares among itself in the Treasury – but there is something even more amazing – you can actually see other Etsy members browsing the lists in real time. OMG – you can chat with others browsing the same list as you and leave comments as well. Most amazing, from a designers pov is that it is possible to actually observe how people are browsing the area.
There is more information and screenshots available on using Treasury on the Etsy Treasury Demo blog, but why go through all that – just check out the site. This is how browsing/shopping SHOULD be.