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.