The Quick Summary
We’ve been working hard the last couple of weeks to make the marketplace easier to browse, much more dynamic and even more community-powered. Pretty exciting huh?! What are you waiting for? Go check out the new beta search and let us know what you think.
The Long Winded Version That Took Forever To Write
Weeks ago, I realized that summer was approaching and that I needed some new t-shirts to rock, so I jumped onto my computer and searched on Zazzle. I started off by searching for “cool t-shirts.” Nothing that great on the first page. No worries, let’s try the second page. Some interesting stuff but still nothing I wanted to buy. How about changing the search result from showing the newest to the most popular instead? Now we’re talking. The designs were all pretty good but the shirts were ones that would have been cool a year ago, not now. At this point I thought to myself, “Wow our marketplace is pretty hard to browse. If I think it’s difficult to find things, I can’t imagine what it’s like for our users. It’s time to improve this thing.”
So the Zazzle team went back, read back through thousands of feedback emails we’ve received from users and created a list of things we thought really needed improvement:
- It’s too hard to quickly browse the marketplace to find and/or discover interesting products.
- The popularity of a product isn’t actually a measure of its “hotness” or momentum, which made the marketplace too static. Once a product becomes popular it tends to stay popular because of the positive feedback loop that’s created. More popular means more people see it… which means more people buy it… which means it gets even more popular. But who wants to see the same products every single day?! T-shirt designs, mugs, and posters are just like books and music – they start small, gain popularity, hit a peak and then are replaced by more topical content as interest wanes. The Zazzle marketplace needs to capture this dynamism.
- We want the community to participate more in order to help determine what the hottest products are through such metrics as ratings, adding to favorites, pageviews, comments and purchases… because there’s no way that we at Zazzle could more accurately predict what people want!
- The images are too small.
- Page load time is too slow.
- Ouch, our SEO is pretty bad.
After several weeks of hard work we think we have something that is ready for our community to start playing around with and for us to learn from. Here’s a summary of what we’ve done so far and what we’re working on:
- Added navigation to the left of the page to make it easier to filter by products and categories. We’re going to be adding more filters like Narrow by Price, Narrow by Color, and Narrow by Contributor.
- Added a new way to view what’s popular by time period like Today, This Week, This Month, and All Time. We’re investigating even more ways to sort, such as Most Favorited, Most Discussed, Most Viewed, Best Sellers, Award Winners, etc.
- Some of our best-n-brightest ZCORE engineers have implemented the first phase of a new popularity algorithm that takes into account community participation and the momentum of product popularity. We can’t disclose much about our secret sauce but we can tell you that the ranking is a function of many metrics and parameters… some of the more significant ones include recent views, ratings, comments, favorites, and sales.
- Increased the size of the preview images from 125×125 to 220×220 and changed them to “realviews” (where a design is displayed on the actual product) instead of design views. That’s at least 310% more preview goodness!
- Improved the load time of our pages. You may even see more speed improvements once we install our aftermarket supercharger and slap on our “Powered by Caffeine” bumper sticker.
- Better SEO which means more people googling out there will find your products on Zazzle.
A bunch of us at Zazzle have been playing around with beta search for a few days and love the new experience because:
- It’s much easier to find and discover fresh and topical products.
- Seeing the marketplace rankings change not just daily – but every single minute – based on community action… is just cool!
- It’s more fun to participate when you know that your actions can positively affect the marketplace experience for all.
- See a product you love? Vote it up, add it to your favorites, share it with friends, add a comment or even buy it (which btw is the biggest indicator that you think the product is hot).
- See a product that is the antithesis of hot? Give it no love, vote it down or don’t click on it. Just don’t leave nasty comments for the contributor. That’s not cool and they’ll probably get deleted anyway.
- We take into account what everyone does on the site, actively remove the spam and mix in some fancy algorithms to calculate what the community thinks is popular.
- We think a lot more people will be visiting Zazzle on a daily basis which means more sales for all!
So, why the beta? Well, this is a pretty significant change to Zazzle and we always want to hear your feedback before making any major changes – our community is very important to us. Let us know what you think!