Monday, August 22, 2016

Let's Go Shopping!

One of the realities of the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing: sometimes we get visitors who are curious about who we are and how we do things. Recently we had a flock of such visitors, an entire design team who decided to come visit after one of our team journeyed out to their parts for a usability study.

We, the staff and regular customers at the Friendly Neighborhood Center had not really had time to plan a tour so we did introductions and then RantWoman made one proposal and figured the rest of the group would think of ways to entertain those not entertained by RantWoman. RantWoman guessed correctly.

RantWoman's offer: we just had a meeting. RantWoman has a to-do list from the meeting. How about some of you just come watch RantWoman work for a few minutes.

RantWoman's experience is that for complete assistive technology novices this approach sometimes leads to better questions than if RantWoman starts out all techie. A number of people took RantWoman up on her invitation.

First a summary of RantWoman's tools, Zoomtext 9.1 at 4 x magnification with some other nuances.
JAWS 15 set not nearly as blisteringly fast as RantWoman has heard on the internet.
Lots of keyboard shortcuts, use of the search bar. Lots of reasons an observer will not necessarily be able to tell what RantWoman is doing or how she gets anything done. Tough. That is part of the drill.

RantWoman always considers it rewarding when an observer notices something like "well the screen is not really designed for how you do things. There were voices like that.

There was the voice of another blind person who like RantWoman admits to not using many of the more sophisticated parts of our assistive technology tools.

The visitors graciously watched for a few minutes and then said more  or less, to heck with the to-do list. Do you shop online?

Look, it's the WORKPLACE. RantWoman tends to prefer to keep the workplace and the personal things separated at least in time.

And furthermore, NO, RantWoman does not like to shop all the time. RantWoman has to have time to go outside, wear out shoes, move large muscles, exercise, breathe fresh air, not to mention interact with people. RantWoman when shopping wants to get to what she wants, make buy or wish list decisions quickly and NOT get tangled up forever either in the interface or in some marketer's strategies for holding RantWoman's pathetic eyeballs hostage.

But Yes, of COURSE RantWoman shops online. RantWoman, like millions of others at least from the more privileged classes also shops online during work hours. Perhaps the world does not want RantWoman to meditate further on a certain #digitalequity thread for now.

Okay, show us how you shop.

Today RantWoman has a new PAPER catalog from  RantWoman cannot of course really appreciate the catalog: the print is tiny. RantWoman CAN see that some of the styles look interesting AND that the models look like they are of a size that would actually wear the clothing. That is they have arms thicker than sticks AND they have thighs.

Plus the catalog has one discount and the website has several other options.

What's to be curious about:
Shoes: a number of kinds of flats and boots. Also some stunningly high heels that RantWoman would fall off of as soon as she tried to stand up. RantWoman is annoyed that the shoes seem to have only one width, wide, but still. The shoes all, like the clothing also come in only one color. RantWoman wishes it were easier to find the shoes she wants to look further at.

Unfortunately RantWoman's experience is that she really needs to put her feet into shoes before buying them. Mail order efforts are unlikely unless RantWoman is buying the exact same size and style as she already owns. This rarely happens.

Some clothing styles that scream :no way" to rantWoman but some other things to poke at.

At the item level part of the website, the product info lists height and size worn by model. generally the smallest size sold, but oh, well. The model IS wearing the clothes.

Tunics are actually tunics with the length listed.

crop pamts with lace insets

Leggings in fun prints though a Tall Size option would delight RantWoman.

RantWoman is kind of charmed by some of the styles that she is too far past teeny-bopper to wear herself

The bad news and grumpiness.
No heading to find the product description easily on the item level order page

More goop than RantWoman wants to read every time she looks at a new item.

Something that is too bouncy for RantWoman's visual capacity and RantWoman loses patience quickly if she tries to read the whole page with a screen reader.

RantWoman would SO like to specify her profile of preferences for garment length, sleeve and pant length., fabric content. Set the search engine loose and get back her preferences at the top of the sort. RantWoman has been known to deviate from her stated preferences, but...

Some of the dresses are way too short for RantWoman. The worldr really does not need to see RantWoman's knees.

And to top things off, the website comes with a survey!

The survey is just as bouncy as the rest of the website and RantWoman already has no patience with her screen reader. To be fair the screen reader does read the page but RantWoman is just not patient.

The survey also has WAY TOO MANY required answer fields. Look, it's DATA.  It is not required to be complete. OR just give RantWoman 5 questions and an inquiry whether RantWoman would answer more questions.

Besides additional detail above, also on RantWoman's wish list for online shopping experiences.
--Allow a person who shops for more than one family member to create preference sets for each person.

--Make it easy to move things from shopping cart to wish list or vice versa.

--Perfectly fine and even preferable to have a sort for in stock vs backordered vs  out of stock.

There, enough free consulting for the day; now back to Non Profit Reality.

But one more thing: the print catalog says there is a store at Northgate Mall. RantMom really likes to fondle merchandise. There are other Rant Family shopping destinations at Northgate including options for school clothes s for Irrepressible Nephew who has grown another inch or so this summer. So MAYBE off to the mall it is one day soon.

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