Spring 2001

Eye candy for shopaholics


Dr Claudia Gerdes and Jutta Nachtwey
Thames & Hudson, £24.95

Cybershops claims to be an overview of “dazzling” e-commerce sites, yet busy Web professionals would be better served – and more inspired – by a list of urls.

The book’s premise is that you need good-looking, practical design to entice people to stay and purchase at your site. The defunct www.boo.com is heralded as a site where “. . . with all the interaction, dynamics and fun, shoppers forgot all about the time.” They also forgot to spend any money. Including examples of “failure” would have made the book more compelling, but sadly the rose-tinted spectacles through which the authors view e-commerce avoids any discussion of the definable indicators of a site’s “success”.

Though the authors have an optimistic view of the potential of Web design, they reinforce the notion of design as a superficial pursuit concerned only with the look of things rather than the challenges of usability and navigation. A series of visuals, with little contextual support, leaves us unable to assess whether form follows function(ality). This inability to explore the possibilities within this rich subject results in a book that cannot lift itself above the coffee table.

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