Libreria dei Ragazzi: Designing an online bookstore.

by Adrian Austin

I am personally very pleased with the site we have produced and it has been a pleasure working with Renata Gorgani, Pico Floridi and the Libreria dei Ragazzi team. I think we have managed to achieve a new look for an online bookstore. With a cleaner more modern design using more space and less clutter than a traditional online bookstore.

We have been able to achieve this through the acceptance that users are now happy to scroll. They are used to using online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook which has meant that scrolling down pages has become very intuitive and almost expected. If we take the book listing page as an example, we have implemented an infinite scroll through the entire catalogue of books with the added ability for the user to slim the list down via the left hand filters.

See you scrolled all the way to the end of that image! On the site you can scroll the entire 25,000 strong catalogue. This is an example of one of the many things that has influenced the design of this website. Here are a few notes about three other concepts that led the design process of this website and what we did to apply them on the site.

1. We need to be different. We approached this by making the experience more personal than a traditional online bookstore. Placing more emphasis on bookseller knowledge and trying to give a face to the bookstore. Creating place where you feel like you are getting advice on what to buy when you don’t know exactly what you are looking for.

So, we gave the booksellers more visibility by creating the opportunity to add their own photo, endorsement and personal review to every single book on the site .

Then through the pagine speciali we gave them the opportunity to create collections of books that they recommend around a particular subject or author. Almost like the shelf of recommended books you often see in a physical bookstore. With the pagine speciali we wanted to create a tool that was easy to use, very flexible and gives a true wysiwyg or ‘what you see is what you get’ experience. This is move away from traditional content management systems which allow you to update and add pages via a separate administration section. The booksellers can also update the book pages using this method.

2. The homepage is not the most important page of an e-commerce website. If we think about the statistic that 44% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine. They will be searching for specific books or recommendations for books around a subject. This means that many customers will not land on the homepage. If they are searching for a book around a subject that are more likely to land on a pagina speciale.

If they are searching for a specific book they are more likely to land directly on a book page. This is why we designed the book pages to be on a modal overlaying the book filter page. This way the customer is given a glimpse over related books that are connected to the search they just performed on an external search engine. This will encourage the user to explore our site more rather than jump straight back to the search engine.

3. A modern ecommerce website must address mobile devices. With over half of all e-retail traffic now coming via smartphones and tablet devices it was very important to make sure the site worked across multiple devices. If you Consider that as recently as 2010 mobile visits to e-retail sites accounted for less than 3% of traffic, this latest milestone represents major growth in mobile retail sales in past four years.

So we built the site to be fully responsive. It has a unique layout for different device sizes to utilise the space effectively.

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