Wednesday, September 27, 2006

information architecture in the real world

Neiman Marcus just created a new boutique style store (not a web site - a real store) that is organized differently from its traditional department stores (and different from the usual model). The main difference is the information (or in this case content) organization.

Usually, department stores are organized by product. Shirts are in one place, pants in another, jewelry in another, etc. But in this new store, called CUSP, it is organized by user profile. So for the 20-something trendster, there will be all of the products that this person may want to buy: shirts, pants, suits, accessories, etc. So to check out multiple items, the person stays in the same place. This makes it easier to create matching outfits, try on items from multiple product categories etc.

Is this a great idea or what !! It shows simple attention to human factors. It significantly reduces navigation (which I would claim is even more important in a bricks and mortar store because real travel is required). And it increases the chance of impulse purchases because everything is in view, including that cute purse that would go great with the new pant suit.

But what I would really like to know is what took them so long??? Department stores have been around for decades!!!