Commerce Frictions

Commerce Frictions

Frictions are anything that slows down or stops two or more parties from having a mutually positive experience. Common commerce frictions include:



Product knowledge


Payment and terms

Commerce frictions / Price:

For any product, there is the highest price the shopper is willing to pay and the lowest price the retailer is willing to sell it for. As long as the listed price of the product is between these two numbers, both parties are happy. Buyers want the product for the lowest price as possible. When a retailer is willing to sell a product at a lower price than what is listed, the buyer is losing the difference between those amounts because they do not have complete information. When the buyer is willing to pay more than what is being asked, retailers are losing out on additional profit.

From the buyer’s perspective, it is best to find the lowest price a retailer is willing to sell for. Any time the buyer pays more than necessary or the retailer sells for less than they could have received, they are experiencing information friction that is stopping them from maximizing their benefit. In this case, one person’s loss is another person’s gain, but this is not always the case.

Another friction that can take place is when there is no transaction because the buyer did not know how low the seller would go or the seller did not know how high the buyer would go. A buyer that would have bought an item for $10 but only believed the seller would go as low as $11 is sacrificing a potentially positive transaction because of missing pricing information. This missed transaction can be considered a commerce friction because it stopped two parties from having a favorable exchange.

Commerce frictions / Availability:

A customer may want something immediately but must wait two hours, two days or two weeks to receive it. The product exists but is not close to the customer.

This friction can be resolved in two ways.

A better understanding of who has an item for sale. This may include the store down the street or the person living next door. It could even mean someone that does not have the exact item but would be willing to sell you a similar item that would work but is not 100 percent what you are looking for.

A better understanding of who wants an item. If the seller knows who will need an item, they will transport it to a warehouse closer to the buyer or better advertise it to the right person. If red rain jackets are popular in Seattle but not in Atlanta this season, retailers can be sure to move the inventory to the northeast distribution centers.

Commerce frictions / Product knowledge

If a buyer is not confident that a product is one they will like, fit well, last or complete a task, they may not purchase it. Even if it will do these things, the lack of knowledge could prevent them from purchasing the item. Buyers may never find all relevant knowledge but retailers can provide as much information as possible.

Customer reviews, online videos, and new technology such as augmented reality can help shoppers make better decisions even when they are unable to view the item in person. Shoppers are unable to touch a coffee table when shopping for one online but they can read customer reviews and use augmented reality to see what it will look like in their house. Neither of these are available when simply visiting the physical store to look at the table in person.
Commerce frictions / Discovery:

There are many products that exist that—if known about—a buyer would gladly purchase. A pair of pants that perfectly fits an individual’s size, style, and price range may exist but if the shopper does not know where to find them, the cost in time or money (frictions) to discover the item is a real roadblock. New businesses and features are forming to combat this. Customers are no longer limited to purchasing items that are close to them in proximity. Alibaba, Wish, eBay and others are eliminating many of the discovery frictions related to eCommerce.

Commerce frictions / Payment Options and Terms:

Many frictions are related to how, when, and how safe customers feel when paying. Providing a variety of options including credit cards, PayPal and Amazon payments would be a great start. New options such as Apple Pay and Bitcoin are also becoming popular for several reasons.

Offer customers the option to pay the way they want.

The ability to offer credit to the right people based on new forms of data is an interesting and evolving business. Signals that help banks or other lending institutions are continually increasing. Tala Mobile services give people micro-loans in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Philippines based on how they use their phones. These services examine hundreds of clues from the user’s phone such as how often and when they use it, what apps they use as well as other signals to provide instant loans to people that would not have qualified in the past using traditional methods.

Chapter 4

E-Commerce site structure and elements

Each section of a traditional eCommerce website has specific elements, expectations, and purposes. Most websites have similar structural elements and workflow that users have come to expect. E-Commerce sites often draw on aspects of traditional retail stores by using the brick and mortar symbols of checkouts and shopping carts. Stating that a shopper is “adding something to their cart” fits with how customers have traditionally thought about the shopping experience. They understand the analogy of a shopping cart or checkout line and quickly learn that adding an item to the “cart” does not mean the purchase is finalized but that “checking out” will complete the payment and purchase, in the same way it would at the store down the street. Understanding what people expect online as well as what they expect when shopping in general will help retailers create a better eCommerce experience as well as increase the chance that the customer will be  loyal and happy.

Template / Theme
● Header

● Footer
● Colors
● Fonts
● Page header banners

● Side navigation

● Home
● Category List
● Product List
● Product Detail Page
● Shopping Cart
● Checkout
● My Account
● Static

Off Site

● Review sites

● Social media sites

● Articles

Website Structure / Template

The website template consists of a header, footer, and a few other elements that are on all or most of the site’s pages. It could also include colors, fonts, and other design elements.

Templates provide a consistent shopping experience and design that fits the brand message. 

Keeping aspects of your site consistent will allow users to feel safe while navigating and exploring. It is often useful to follow conventional template structures found on other eCommerce websites. Shoppers are familiar with how to shop online and trying to create new interfaces can be confusing.

The template also provides a look and feel that fits the brand message. The colors, fonts, and photos used on sites for dolls, skateboards or insurance would be very different. The design elements, use of language and theme of the site needs to consistently tell your brand story, whether it is fun, excitement or safety.

Main Elements:
● Header

● Footer
● Navigation

● Theme / Colors / Fonts

Website Structure / Template / Header

The header is the first thing people see on your site and it must pack a lot of information into a small space. Headers often contain the logo, search bar, product and site navigation, shopping cart information, promos and contact information.

Main goals of a header:
● Provide consistency for the web experience
● Provide general site and user information
● Provide site navigation and product search


The logo is often on the left side of each page, but is also popular in the center of the page as well on responsive design sites. The logo generally links to the home page and is an easy anchor to assure people they are able to go back to the home page anytime they want. I believe the logo has traditionally been on the left because people in the West generally read from left to right. A logo oriented on the left has the added benefit that no matter how small the browser window, the logo will always be visible and visitors will know what site the browser window is displaying. This is becoming less important with responsive design sites because the logo would always stay visible.


The primary use for search capabilities on a website is to help people discover products, especially if the retailer has a large catalog of items for sale.

Search becomes more important as you add more products to your store.

The interface designer should look at how important search is to the specific target audience and the catalog of products on the site. If search is important, enlarging the search box plays at least two important roles. It makes finding the search bar easy and shows the user that you expect them to use it. By making the search bar prominent, the designer is telling the user that this is the easiest way for them to find the desired product.

Search features can show autocomplete suggestions as you type, show products right in the search box, allow searches by uploading photos and even add items to the cart in the search box.

Contact Information:

Contact information should be available on all eCommerce sites, but placing it in the header is an effective way to make it easy to find and ensure that it is on every page.

Clear contact information shows the online shopper that if they have a problem, someone is available to help them.

As with the search box, a larger phone number gives the appearance that phone calls are encouraged for any reason. Other forms of contact info include a physical store locator for retailers with a brick and mortar presence, hours of operation, links to online forms such as large quote requests or general questions, email addresses, the headquarters address, social media links and live chat.

Communicate with customers in the manner that works best for them.

Retailers may only want to encourage certain types of communication and by making this information larger, prominent, and placing it in the header, more people will be encouraged to use the preferred method.

Shopping Cart Information

The shopping cart icon informs the user how many products they have in their cart. It can also include a drop-down menu on mouse-over with an image, quantity, name, and price of each item about to purchased. Putting this information in the header saves shoppers the hassle of going to the shopping cart page to view what they have in their cart while shopping.

Site-Wide Promos

Free shipping, special sales, and other promotions or information are great items to put in the header. This ensures that people are able to see the information. However, adding too many promotions will clutter the site and render each promo less effective


Top-level product category navigation can be useful for a number of reasons.

If the site is not well-known, top-level navigation tells new users the types of products you sell.

It also helps people that prefer navigation over searching to find what they are looking for quickly. Some sites directly list the top categories and other sites have a drop-down menu listing top categories.

Many eCommerce stores also include navigation that is not product-focused. About, Contact, Legal and Login links are also commonly put in the header.

Website Structure / Home Page:

The home page, unlike many other pages, serves a number of distinct purposes that depend on the type and popularity of the site. Walmart does not need to explain what they sell while may need to. Placing the UVP (unique value proposition) on Walmart’s home page is not as important as placing it on the home page of a website that is less popular. Some stores feature products on the home page while others use it to help customers find the right category. Some stores expect the home page to be the starting place for the shopping experience while others assume the shopping experience starts with a Google search and customers enter their site through a category or product detail page.

Each website has a different purpose for the home page that is influenced by brand recognition, discovery norms and depth of their catalog.

Main goals:

Make visitors aware of what the site sells and its unique value proposition.

Help customers find what they want with as little effort as possible.

Main Elements:

Unlike most of the pages of an eCommerce website, home pages can be vastly different from one store to another with incredibly different goals. The execution of the site’s goals can also vary dramatically depending on many factors.

● Banner displaying UVP or product and category

● Featured brands

● Trust signals

● Featured categories or products

● Extensive list of popular products or categories

Website Structure / Category List Page:

Category list pages are common on sites with a larger product catalog. They display the subcategories making it easier for users to find the items they are looking for. Athletic shoe stores may display a list of shoes such as running, basketball, soccer, and baseball but not a list of specific shoes. Physical stores have aisles dedicated to specific sections that can be seen from the entrance. Shoppers do not expect to see the specific shoes they are looking for before visiting the shoe section and the specific shelf where those shoes are located. The same can be said for online stores.

Main Goals:
Show the types of products for sale on the site.

Move shoppers closer to the products they are looking for.

Main Elements:
● Multiple product categories

● Links to related content

Calls to Action:
● Links to subcategories

● Links to related content

Some stores have additional information such as links to buying guides, product comparisons, or other product related information. This can be very helpful if the shopper needs assistance in making a decision.

Category pages may also list top-selling products. This feature is effective when it helps the buyer find the product they want faster, especially if they know want they want. If the category includes many products, but only a few popular items, displaying the popular products as early as possible in the process can be very effective. This feature can also serve as a social signal that indicates which products are the best deal or value.

Website Structure / Product List Page:

The product list page aims to give users all the information they need to choose a product but not necessarily all of the information required to make the final purchase decision. Product details such as shipping information, full product description, and extra photos are generally found on the product detail page.

Product lists resemble the familiar action of standing in the store aisle and looking at the product offering. Customers have not picked up the product, looked at sizes or other information yet. They are just seeing what specific products are available and noting their prices.

Main Goals:
Display the products for sale.

Move people closer to the items they are looking for.

Main Elements:
● Multiple Products with photos, price, name and limited additional product info

● Filters / Refinements

Calls to Action
● Products or product names
● More info button
● Add to cart button
● Links to related content

Urban Outfitters designed their product list pages well. When viewing the product list page for a pair of sunglasses on a desktop computer, a photo of the glasses and a model wearing them alternate when mousing over the thumbnail. Color options—something many shoppers care about—are also displayed. The site provides users with the information they need to make a purchasing decision through a clean, elegant design.

Website Structure / Product List Hybrid:

Some pages include a combination of category and product list elements. These pages move users closer to the products they want in an efficient manner. Which specific elements to place on the hybrid pages will depend on a number of factors including whether the selections follow a long-tail distribution (large number of unique items in relatively small quantities), the number of products available, and the devices that the target audience use.

Website Structure / Product Detail Page:

Product detail pages provide detailed information about the product. Ideally, the page displays everything the customer needs to make a buying decision and determine whether or not the product and offer is right for them.

Main goals:

Help the shopper decide whether the product is right for them.

Provide cost and shipping information.

● Product Photos, Videos

● Text Description

● Data Grid including Size, Weight, etc.

● Product Guides including PDF Downloads

● Price

● Options

● Availability, Shipping Time

● Add to Cart Button (Call to Action)

● Share or Save to List (Secondary Call to Action)

● Related Products (Add-ons Or Accessories)

● Customers Also Purchased (Secondary Call to Action)

● Reviews
● Trust Signals

Website Structure / Shopping Cart:

The shopping cart metaphor is used in eCommerce as well. Some sites let customers skip the shopping cart altogether and go right to checkout. When a customer is ordering only one item, that is generally fine. If they are buying multiple items at once, it is helpful to see all the products being purchased before advancing to checkout.

Main Goals:
Show customers what they are buying.

Give users info about ALL costs including shipping information.

Display payment methods or link to external payment method.


● Product names, quantity, price

● Full price info including shipping and tax (add zip code)

● Ability to add coupons (this can also be handled at checkout)

● Payment method (this may also be handled at checkout, however, third parties such as PayPal often have their own checkout and these methods are selected here)

Website Structure / Checkout:

Main Goals:
Review the purchase including tax, shipping, and terms before paying.

Complete the transaction by entering payment and shipping information.


● Sign in or guest checkout

● Form field for billing and shipping info

● Form field for payment info

● Shipping options

● Form field for coupons if not added already

● Form field for additional comments

● Place order button

Website Structure / Static Page:

Static pages or general information pages can be grouped in a number of ways. Blogs may also fit into this category and fulfill a number of roles, such as providing product info, company info or other related topics.

Products / category information:
Comparison Sheets
Product Guides
How-To Pages

Company Information:
Contact info, company history, job opportunities, and any other company specific info

Legal Information
Terms and Conditions
Shipping Policy
Return Policy
Privacy Policy

Website Structure / Customer Account:

The Account section is provided by eCommerce sites for customers to save all user-specific information. Generally password protected, customers can access it to update payment data, view past orders and find shipping information.

Main Goals
Provide information about current and past orders.

Shipping and billing information.

● List of past orders to allow for easy reordering

● Tracking and shipping information

● Easy to update payment, shipping and account info

Website Structure / Off-site pages:

These are not pages on a store site but are considered additional pages that the store has some control over. Unlike media sites or review sites that stores do not have control over, these pages allow retailers to add their information such as logos, images, and general store information.

Store brand should be consistent across all touch points and off-site content is no exception.

Product Discover

How shoppers discover

Shoppers learn about products and stores from friends, media, endorsements, advertising and numerous other ways. How we discover the products or find the best store to buy them at continues to evolve over time. Here are a few of the ways people currently discover products and stores prevalent in eCommerce.

Search Engines (Google)

Marketplaces (Amazon)

Social media

Real world / TV / Showrooming

How shoppers discover  / Search Engine

Google is often the place shoppers start searching for product information and products they want to purchase online. With the invention of Product Listing Ads (PLAs), eCommerce has become very important for Google, online retailers, and customers alike. Google relies on eCommerce for a good portion of its revenue, retailers for much of their web traffic and customers for finding the best place for great prices, information, and selection.

Google considers many factors when listing results.

Device, location, type of product, past searches and any other signal shoppers have access to that may be useful are used as signals. These can determine what products shoppers see as well as how many or what type of ad or results they get.

How shoppers discover  / Amazon

Many people are now moving away from Google as the starting point for their online product purchase. Often Amazon is the perfect place to start your product search. It offers competitive prices, extensive selection, a familiar interface, stored credit card and shipping information, product recommendations, reviews and more. Even if the price is not the best for all products, it may be easier to shop on Amazon instead of starting a new account at a different retailer just to save a dollar or two.

Many people think of Amazon when online shopping is mentioned. As of 2016, about 55 percent of online shoppers say they start on Amazon.

How shoppers discover  / Social Media

People both discover and purchase on social media. Placing items for sale on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest is popular for some types of products. This will become more significant for online shopping as these networks continue to integrate the ability to purchase the items right into the platforms.

Social networks are perfect for discovering trends or products from people you trust such as friends, celebrities, or experts.

People are not generally using social media to shop and may not be in the mindset for buying the way they are when searching Google or visiting Amazon. Even when shoppers are not spending money while on these networks, the new methods of advertising to targeted customers will impact retail in many ways.

How shoppers discover  / Real-World / TV

The ability to buy a product online as soon as it’s found in the real world, on a video, or in a different store is changing the way shoppers discover products and how they shop. Amazon lets you scan an actual product and if they can recognize it, you can purchase it from Amazon right then and there. This can be done by using your phone to scan the barcode, the box or sometimes even the product itself. This method encourages discovery and convenience and is a great new way to buy the products you see in everyday life with less effort. Some stores have been experimenting with letting people purchase products that are featured in a video, TV show or movie. This is relatively new and will continue to change as the technology, customer expectations and infrastructure evolves.

books + ideas

Here Comes Everybody
The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
– Clay Shirky – February 28, 2008

free time + Connectivity = new types of content

Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, podcasts

We are now able to do new things with the collection of people that we were never able to do in the past. People have more free time and the ability and desire to work on a number of user based products.

In some cases this has changed the line between pro and amateur because anyone can publish and make money. Books, blogs, radio and so on can now be done by anyone.

Social networks with friends are also interesting and can be part of this but can also be thought of in a different way.
Inbound Marketing
Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs
– Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan – 2009

Make marketing content customer centered, not product centered.

People care about themselves and how your product will help them. The customer should be the focus, not the bells and whistles of the product. Make content that shows how it will make their life easier, better or solve a problem.
Marketing, Business

Question: What do customers care about in your industry and how can you make sure to highlight these things?

Do your customers care about
– price:
– prestige
– convince
– discovery
– safety
– signals
– convience

If a customer cares about safety it may  not be a good idea to market all about price.

Selling eyewash stations
– customers may really care about passing OSHA test. A small difference in price is not as important as passing regulations. In this case you want knowlegable staff to help out. How will the product help them pass the test, not have a fine, keep workers safe.

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs
– Carmine Gallo – 2016

People need some sort of inspiration beyond making money.

Put a dent in the universe. Do something that really matters, something that motivate your team and yourself. Steve Jobs really believed in his vision and got others to believe too. He was not only making money with Apple but also making the best products that have a larger impact on the world.
Apple, Business

Question: How can I make my work activities focus on a mission and not just profit?  What mission motivates me?

The Start-up of You
Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
– Reid Hoffman – 2012
Individuals, not just business, should have a unique value proposition.

Treat yourself like a business that your boss chooses to hire or have a contract with. If you can develop your unique value, just like a business, you will be able to demonstrate more valuable to your employer or those that wish to work with you.

Business, Work

Questions: What is my work or personal UVP or what UVP do I want to work on developing?

Sustainable UVP:
– possibilities,

– understanding of User centered design, marketing, psychology,
– use creativity to think of invasive business models that take advantage of new technology
– I want to the person that has visited more online shops than anyone.
that has looked at more commerce user experiences.

Rick free logo design:
Logo design


Think Smart:
A Neuro Scientist’s Prescription for Improving Your Brain’s Performance
– Richard Restak – 2009

Diet, excessive and sleep all have a large impact on how the brain works and how well it functions.

Optimize, Psychology, Health
Question: What healthy activity can I start to make my brain work better?

I need to meditate, get more rest and limit caffeine intake

Elon Musk:
Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

– Ashlee Vance – 2015
Elon is driven by missions he thinks will come to fruition even if his business is not the one to do it.

Of course we should not let rockets crash and have to remake them every time we go in space. Of course electric cars are better. Elon may not be sure that his specific companies will succeed but he is sure that he will be on the right side of the history with his ideas.
Business, Future, Tech
Question: What do you believe is inevitable to happen even if the business case is not here yet?

new education
elimination of MAP pricing (Map pricing may be good but it is restricting information and technology is going
eliminating of many jobs

Man’s Search for Meaning
– by Viktor Frankl – 1946

Having meaning or purpose in life can help you get through just about anything.

If we have a purpose more important than us we may be able to handle some of life hardships a bit easier.


Question: What meaning can I add to my life to make any amount of hardship worthwhile?

I know that if i had 5 kids that had no food living nearby I would feed them. I wish i could feel the positive impact of helping others in a way that was in line to the positive i was doing. I may not think twice about drinking and energy drink for 2 dollars but the amount of joy i get out of that is little and amount that could be gained is a lot. I am not willing to give that up. If they were my kids I would.

If i  could give to charity and feel even a small part of the joy given to others I may be willing to give up more that the energy drink

Meatball Sundae
– by Seth Godin

You can use marketing tools to help market your product or you can design a product that fits in the
marketing tools you have.

Build the marketing into the product. Make the product so remarkable


Question: What can I incorporate into a product or service I am working on to make it market itself?

we send toilet paper to a friend when you order from us?

make it so people want to share it. ( i donated a meal with give one meal) make the ability to share easy and market to people that sharing that they donated is

plant a tree every time you shop on amazon. (share


Poke the Box
– by Seth Godin

Networks, reputation, experience and intelligence are all types of value that are not financial but still useful.

Business, Economics

Question: How can I build multiple types of value in my day to day life or business?

I could work to build relationships with other people in the industry that could help sustainable supply

Great customer service

try and use our network for something else. try and sell some of our customers everything.


What Would Google Do?
– Jeff Jarvis – 2009

The power of networks is often in the number or quality of people using them and therefore are often more powerful when they are free.

Companies such as social networks can make money in other ways such as having the customer as the product for the advertiser. Having a low barrier of entry gives more people access and thus makes them more useful.
Business, Google, Marketing

Question: What can I provide for free and make money in some other way?

what if Facebook were a marketplace. not face book itself but a zero percent commission (Facebook is free and amazon, eBay take 12 percent). could it work?
The Wisdom of Crowds

– James Surowiecki – 2004

Having a diverse group of people can help bring new ideas to the tables.

A diverse group can help shed light on a verity of ways to tackle or think about a problem. Experts are still useful to have but a variety plus experts can bring an even better outcome.


Question: How can I harness the power of other points of view to make better decisions?

Visit new cultures, ready about different cultures, talk to people from a variety of perspectives, ask people how they solved a problem and see if you can find simmilarities in problems you want to solve

How We Decide
– Jonah Lehrer – 2009
Emotional decisions based on years of evolution may of be better than well thought out decisions.


Question: What decisions are useful to make with emotions and what is useful to use logic?

quick decisions
low importance: you can waist a lot of time trying to use logic when
anything that get a better result with emanational decision making.

How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
– Shane Snow – 2014

Asking others with the skills we are looking to gain can be an efficient way to learn.

Books, mentors and teachers are all useful ways to help you learn faster. The ability to transfer knowledge is one reason humans have been able to survive so successfully.

Question: What can I learn from others that I am currently trying to learn on my own.

programing, fitness,

The E-Myth Revisited:
Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
– Michael Gerber – 2004

To enjoy running a business you need to enjoy more than the specific industry your business is in.

It may not be a good idea to start a bakery just because you love to bake. You now have to get up every day at 4 am, take care of finances, business taxes, marketing, inventory and manage people. This is different from baking cakes, and if that is really what you love to do owning the bakery may not be the right option.
Business, Psychology, Work

Question? What aspects of my job do I enjoy and how can I do more of that?

design, product design, group problems solving.

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

– Daniel Pink – 2009

Adding money can change the way people think about a situation

Imagine if, as a favor for your friend, you helped them move for 3 hours. You told them that they did not need to pay but they said that they valued your time and gave you 2 dollars. At first you were doing it to just help but now feel your time is valued at less than 1 dollars an hours.
Business, Psychology, Work

Question? What areas in my life would add money make things weird.

gas money for driving other people kids
paying for friendship

The Personal MBA:
Master the Art of Business
– Josh Kaufman – 2010

Make value for others and you will have a great business.

Make sure you find something people want and will pay for. If you can make other people’s life better and they recognize this you may be able to make a business out of it.

Question: How can I use my unique skill sets to make value for others?

What Technology Wants
– Kevin Kelly – 2010

Networks connect people with ideas that they would not have had without the networks.

Evolution, Tech

Question: How can we more effectively harness networks in day to day life?

connecting buyers and sellers better
connecting people that would make great friends
connecting people that want to work together

Marketing in the Age of Google:
Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy
– Vanessa Fox – 2010

Data from Google can be used to understand your market and not just get customers.

Often times we think of Google as a place to be found but it also a tool that helps us learn what people are looking for and will let us craft our business accordingly.
Business, E commerce, Marketing

Question: What data can we get from Google to help us understand our customers.

use google suggest or auto complete to see what people are looking for
google trends

The Magic of Instant Connections
– Rom Brafman – 2010

When we realize that someone else likes us we often like them in return.

If you want others to like you it is a good idea to generally like people.
Business, Communication

Question: Think of an example where someone clearly thought positive about you. Did you like them in return?

yes, anyone willing to listen to me talk about ethics, AI, Commerce or VR AR is cool to me. ok that is more topic related. not personality related

On Second Thought:
Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits
– Wray Herbert – 2011

Unrelated variables often impact how we make decisions.

How hungry your are, the temperature in the room or recent smells can all cause us to make choices on topics that we assume are rational but have nothing to do with what are trying to accomplish.

Question: How can I make sure to make important decisions or have important conversations when I am in the right frame of mind?

Work to be aware of our cycles and try to use rationality to overcome the types of decisions when you are in the wrong from of mind


Small is the New Big:
And 183 Other Riffs, Rants and Remarkable Business Ideas

– Seth Godin – 2007
If you really want people to remember you make it personal.

In the new world we need to be more personal to be remarkable. Do not waste people’s time with generic marketing.

Business, Marketing

Question: What can I do to make my marketing more personal to the target audience?

remarking with a phone call (scott)
email marketing with a name, product they purchased

The Happiness Hypothesis:
Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom
– Jonathan Haidt – 2006

It is easier to see faults in others than ourselves.

It is not hard to see other people’s flaws and point them out or judge them but we may have the same flaws. Even if it is hard to do, we should try to take an outside look at ourselves and others.
Questions: What do I complain about others doing that I also do?

I need to be constant, i have to be forgiving,

Buying In:
What We Buy and Who We Are
– Rob Walker – 2008

What we buy is often impacted by our identity.

Organic, Adidas, BMW. They all say something about us.
Commerce, Economics, Psychology

Question: What do I buy that is part of my identity. Can I get that part of my identity some other way?

adidas shoes. apple products, some weird food products, books

100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing
– Roger Dooley – 2014

Eliminate the pain of purchasing and people will buy more.

The easier you make it to buy or at least not have negative associations for paying money the more you will sell.

Business, Marketing, Psychology

Question: What are some purchasing pain points that companies have eliminated in the past? What else can we eliminate?
The Mind of the Market:
How Biology and Psychology Shape Our Economic Lives
– Michael Shermer – 2017

The Satisfaction with the amount of money we earn is impacted by what those around us earn.
Business, Economics, Psychology

Question: How can I change my ideas on money so I am happy with what I have?
How to Use More Than 100 Secrets of Ad-agency Psychology to Make Big Money
– Whitman Drew Eric – 2012

Social proof in advertising can be very effective in helping people feel the made a smart decisions

Business, Marketing, Psychology

Question: Where do I see social proof in my day-to-day life?

podcast product recommendations. websites that show other clients. product reviews. most popular web searches “” i had never heard of. now i play.

Situations Matter:
Understanding how Context Transforms Your World

– Sam Sommers – 2011
The situation we are in has a large impact on how we make decisions and interact with the world.

It is important to understand what impacts us and in what ways so we can make better decisions about our life.

Optimize, psychology

Question: How can I make sure I am in the right frame of mind when making important decisions?
Above the Fold:
Understanding the Principles of Successful Website Design
– Brian Miller – 2011

Keep you website header consistent and people will feel grounded and safe navigating your site.

Design, e-commerce, UX, design
Question: Do I have the right content in my header to make navigation feel safe?
Conversion Optimization:
The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers

– Khalid Saleh, Ayat Shukairy – 2010
Social proof is a mental shortcut that helps people make decisions on whether or not to purchase your product.

Adding things such as 100 shares, loved by thousands, 1000’s of happy customers or most popular banners help people decide what to buy because they feel they made the smart choice. social proof is a mental shortcut we take when we do not have all of the information we would like.

Design, e-commerce, Marketing

Question: What social proof can I add to help others make the decisions I want?

Free marketing :
101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business, Online and Off
– Jim Cockrum – 2011

Influence the influencers
If you can get someone well-connected to recommend your product or service you may get a great ROI because you are spending the influencers social capital. This is why celerity or expert endorsements are so valuable.

Business, e-commerce Marketing

Question: How can I find someone who has a lot of influence to promote my product or service?

who influences different type of shopping purchases?
– if a medicine is recommended by a doctor it will sell more
– a trusted source
– a celebrity
– we can use the influencer. can we also be the influencer. Eyewash direct is the influencer.

design websites to increase traffic and conversions

– Ben Hunt – 2011

Make sure each web page has a clear purpose and call to action

Make it clear what the page is about and what next steps are that the user should take.
Design, e-commerce, Marketing

Question: Do my top pages have a clear call to action?

can i do a better job on mobile? not something i think about to much.
Too Big to Know:
Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
– David Weinberger – 2014

In the past it was important to know information and now it is important to understand how to access it.
In many cases knowledge has moved onto networks. There is more knowledge than ever. Even the idea of what it means to be smart has changed.
Question: How can I make it easier to access information?

curations, curations of curtain, so much info is available that i have not experienced.
timing, i want diffrent music on in a car with a 3 year old than when i am biking to work.

at sustainable supply what information do our customers want that we can gather for them. reviews, guides, videos, help them solve a problem?
What’s the Right Thing to Do?
– Michael Sandel – 2010

We put a price on life.

When we increase the speed limit we decide that it is OK for more people to die if we can get places faster. It ends up saving us time and the amount of time per person working is about 1.6 million dollars (if I remember correctly).

Question: What do we say we can not put a price on but still do?

The First 20 Hours:
How to Learn Anything… Fast!

Breaking thing you want to learn into chunks can help you learn faster.

By breaking things into chunks it is often easier to learn otherwise complex subject. We can get a better idea of what aspects are important and do not feel as overwhelmed.


Question: how can I break apart what I want to learn into manageable chunks
i can just start doing a very small amount at a time. do not think about the entire project. just start putting on paper ideas. they need to start and ideas build on ideas.

try and learn one new micro skill a day. after a year they add up. a new keyboard shortcut or program feature. a way to save i minute a day.

In The Plex:
How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
– Steven Levy

Speed, openness, experimentation, and wiliness to take risks are core principles behind Google’s success.
Business, Google

Question: How can I use some of these values in my life to help me reach new goals.

speed: the faster the feedback cycle the faster i can learn
openness: can i share ideas and goals with others and get feedback?
experimentation: run experiments on sustainable shopping cart and PDP page template.
risk: find a risk with a low downside and small potential of high upside. or even if a fail something good happens.


The New Industrial Revolution
– Chris Anderson

Bits are easily transferable at a very low cost but soon we may be able to do this with atoms.

The maker movement is being catapulted by 3D printing, services such as kickstarter and the access to more sensors and components because of cell phone manufactures.

Future, Tech

Question: What will be able to make at a much lower cost in the future?

physical decretive objects. (AR will fill our life with many items we payed for. We will download many things that are decretive, and atoms armor expensive than bites

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead
What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History

– Brian Halligan and David L Scott – 2010

Make your loyal fans feel special.

Give them free tickets a better deal and make sure they feel as if they are part of the tribe.


Question: what would make our best customers feel important and want to shop with us?

scott is finding out! 🙂

A Brief History of Humankind

– Yuval Noah Harari – 2011

Having common myths, even if they are not true, can be useful.

Ideas such as rights, money and capitalism are something we all believe in but are not real, just myths we use that help society run.

History, Evolution, Culture
Question: What do I believe that is not “true” but is useful.

I may be overly optimistic about the direction of the world
I may see the world with rose colored glasses

Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving
– Noah Fleming
Most people can only remember a few things about your company.

Choose one or two message you want people to associate with your brand and make these very clear.

Business, Marketing

Question: What one or two things do we want people to think about when they think about your business?

options for sustainable supply
– customer service
– reliable fast delivery
– expert advice
– best price

Where Good Ideas Come From:
The Natural History of Innovation
– Steve Johnson – 2010

Using a broad set of influences can be useful in generating new ideas.

Reading books on different topics, talking to different people or visiting a verity of cultures can help you gain new ways of approaching a problem. Working on multiple subjects and having a larger network can all be useful for connecting the dots and coming up with great ideas.

Question: What can I do to gain new perspectives about a problem?

ask 3 friends
brainstorm 10 ideas or 100 ideas on how to solve the problem

Age of Context:
Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy

– Robert Scoble – 2013

Cheap sensors will continue to grow in number and capability allowing us to create a lot more data.
Many new sensors and recording devises are coming. The mobile phone is just the beginning and it already has the ability to collect a lot of data that is being used in interesting ways.

Question: What new type of data could it be possible to collect and how will the new data help or hurt society.


anything we can measure that, when on its own or combined with something else that can be measured, the data can be used to help us make better decisions at something we care about.

interesting part of this:
– we need to be able to measure. what can get measured has increased in is increasing.
– as more things can be measured the signals may not be good on their own but when combined they may bring new useful info
– combined with data about you but also coronations and causations from larger data sets.
– only useful if data can be delivered in a way that could help us
– and a way that we care about and know about

The Logic of Human Destiny
– Robert Wright

Nonzero sum gains are one of the reasons we are so well off.
Often people think of

philosophy, Psychology
Question: How can we build more non zero gains instead of zero sum gains?

set up better networks
set up better incentives
set up better information about the transactions
learn about all consequences and take them into account
build better norms

How Not to Die:
Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

– Gene Stone and Michael Greger – 2015

Most people are not even close to eating enough vegetables.

Adding just a few servings of veggies to our meals will make a big difference in the health of our society.


Question: How can I sneak more veggies in my diet?

green smoothies.

The Compound Effect:
Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success
– by Darren Hardy – 2015
Design the life you want first and the career you want second.

It is important for your business to job to fit in the lifestyle you want. What we are doing day-to-day has such a big impact on our happiness and fulfillment.


Question: What would make me happy to be doing on a day-to-day basis?

i like creating things. i like working in teams of people i like. i like to do something innovative. Solve new problems. I like walking dogs too.

Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs

– Carmine Gallo – 2011

Say no to a 1,000 things.

By being very deliberate on what you are working on and keeping focused on what is important you will be able to do a few things great instead of a lot of things sub par.

Book, Business, Design

Question: What can I say no too that would give me more time for what is important?

anything i can outsource.

Naked Statistics:
Stripping the Dread from the Data

– Charles Wheelan – 2013

Correlation and causation are not the same, but they both can be useful

It is important to remember Correlation and causation but that does not mean that we should ignore correlation as it can still be useful in making decisions.
Business, Economics, Psychology
Question: What are some examples where Correlation and causation get confused?

the economy went up or down and so and so was president.

Why Things Catch On

– Jonah Berger – 2013
We share things that will make us look good.

We share things that show we are smart, caring or other positive traits on social media. We care about social curacy.

Business, Psychology

Question: How can I increase shares by making others look good for sharing?

Marketing to women:
how to increase your share of the world’s largest market
– Marti Barletta – 2003

Woman make many of the household buying decisions and they often look for different attributes than men do.

Traditionally marketing “rules” have been set up by men but men may not be the target audience. When women are the target audience we need to take this into consideration.
Business, Marketing, Psychology


Love in the Time of Algorithms:
What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating
– Dan Slater – 2013

We are not stuck to the few people we could have dated that lived near us as we were for most of history.

Now we have so many more options and ability to meet new people. It is changing what we expect out of relationships.
Psychology, Relationships

Question: How has having such a wide range of potential mates changed what we look for in a partner.
How Pleasure Works:
The New Science of Why We Like What We Like
– Paul Bloom – 2010

We have evolved to not pay attention to most things around us.

If we did not do this we would be bombarded by stimuli. This is useful and probably necessary for us but we can miss some basic things. this is an example of the brain taking a shortcut. We do focus on things that help us pass on our genetics. What can we eat, mate with or stop from killing us.

Question: What can a eliminate from my focus to be more productive?

The 4-Hour Workweek
Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
– Tim Ferriss – 2007

We can 80/20 most area of our life.

the 80/20 principle is great for work or projects but can be used in just about all aspects of day-to-day life.

Business, Design, Optimize

Question: What can I eliminate to make room to do more of the important stuff?

what parts of my day am i not maximizing?

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
– Daniel H. Pink

People are driven by many things but some of the better

Some of these include having control, getting better at what they do and being part of something bigger than they are. This can be useful in thinking about trying to motivate people at work or in other areas. It is not just rewards such as money or threats such as firing that get people motivated.

Question: What are some thing that motivate me other than money
Wealth of Nations
– Adam Smith – 1776
Specialization can help create wealth.

Adam smith has a story about a pin factory and how many pins can be created if the workers specialize. He demonstrates that specialization (and in turn trade) are one way we are able to become better off.


Question: How can I do more of what I am good at and have others do more of what they are good at so it is a win win situations?
The 4-Hour Body:
An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
– Tim Ferriss – 2010

Look for the minimum effective dose

This the minimum needed effort to accomplish your goal. We may not need to do more and in many case doing more can hinder us at achieving our goal. Strive for the minimum dose to get what we want. Not the max we can get away with.


Question: what can I do a minimum effective dose on that I am not doing now. what am I over doing?
Stoicism For Beginners:
Transform Your Life With Stoic Philosophy, Habits & Knowledge From Marcus Aurelius & Seneca
– Gregory Moto
If you want to change something from good to bad you can change your situation or change how your feel about it.

Focus less on outside situation and more on inside situations.

If you want to change if something from good to bad you can change your situation or change how your feel about it. It is often easier to change your mind and not the real situation?


Question: how can I change my inner voice so that I am happy with a situation?

Primal Endurance
Escape Chronic Cardio and Carbohydrate Dependency, and Become a Fat-Burning Beast!
– Mark Sisson – 2016
Rest is necessary if we want to be more fit or stay healthy.

Rest is when your body does the work to rebuild itself and get stronger after the stress of a workout. This includes post workout rest, rest at night and one month or so a year that you take it easy and not work out to hard.
Health, Optimize
Question: Am I getting enough rest. Nightly, after workouts or on an anual basis?
From Good to Great to Unstoppable
– Tim S. Grover – 2013

To be GREAT comes with sacrifices and a different mindset.

Many of the people we think of as the best at what they do need to have a completely different mindset and are willing to sacrifice things most of us think are to important.


Question: What am I willing to give up to archive my goals?
The Primal Blueprint
– Mark Sisson – 2009
Do most workouts at a low heart rate but occasionally raise it for short periods of time.

Sprinting or lifting heavier weights are a great way to stay healthy by lifting your heart rate for short period of time. They recommend doing lots of activity at a slower pace but only small amounts of sprinting or weightlifting at high intensity and not much in the middle.
Health, Optimize
Question: How can I do a fw of the simple things better to get the results I want?
Live a Meaningful Life

– The Minimalists – 2011

Some items we own make us worse off because we have to care for or worry about them.

The cost of something is not just the price paid for it initially but the upkeep, worry, space and mental energy the item ocupies .


Question: What can I eliminate in my life that takes up mental or physical space but does not give back?
The Undercover Economist
– Tim Harford – 2005

Trade is one reason we are so well off.

Items such as a pencil or espresso would be impossible with other specialization and trade.

the division of labor allows a person that is great at logo design to spend 8 hours a day making logos and not have to worry about where they will get their food. They will get really good at making logos and in exchange a farmer that is really good at making food will do this all day but never have to build a house.


Question: What are some areas where I am better off because of specialization?
The Signal and the Noise:
Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t

– by Nate Silver – 2012

Some things are really difficult to make predictions about because so many things influencing the outcome.

Economics factors around the world such as wars or natural disasters can have a large and unpredictable impact on many things.

Optimize, psychology
Question: how can I update my predictions to be more accurate?
Everything is Obvious
How Common Sense Fails Us
– Duncan J. Watts – 2011

Common sense is different between different cultures or groups of people.

What people think is fair, moral or the right way to act may seem clear to one person, and thus common sense, but completely foreign to a different person in a different society. Even in cultures the ideas behind common sense often break down as so many other things impact our judgment. So many psychological factors influence our decisions making that what we think of as common sense may differ based on time of day, place or mood.


Question: What do I think is common sense that others do not? and vise versa?
– Sophia Amoruso – 2015

Think about the experience from the customer’s point of view.

When designing an e-commerce store or any type of business it is a good idea to look at user experience by putting yourself in the users shoes. Understand what they care about and how they interact with your business.
Business, E-Commerce

Question: How can I make sure to look at things from the customer point of view. What do they care about?
Duct Tape Marketing
– John Jantsch – 2007

Solving a problem for people that they already know they have..

Show your target audience you really understand their issues and have a solution. This is easier then trying to convince them they need your product if they do not understand the problem it is trying to solve.
Business, Marketing

Question: What problem am I solving for a customer that is not solved some other place?

The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
– Guy Kawasaki – 2011

sharing an interest or passion is a great way to bond with others and get them to like you.

One of the easiest ways to encourage others to like you is to show passion in an area they are also interested in. This puts you in the same tribe and will make them look at you in a more positive light.

Business, Marketing

Question: How can I find similar interests with others?

David and Goliath:
Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
– Malcolm Gladwell – 2013
We often compare ourselves to those around us.

If we are around brilliant talented people all day we may end up feeling we are not very smart. A student may shine at an average school but end up dropping out or feeling like a failure at an elite school because the perceived average is much higher.

Question: How can I put myself in situations where I compare my self to others that helps me archive my goals?
How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World

– Peter Diamandis, Steven Kotler – 2015
Exponential gains are powerful and not always intuitive
Kodak invented the digital camera but was not worried about it taking business from film cameras because the photos, in 1976, were so low quality that they could never replace print. Following mores law the quality doubled each year or two. Just 30 years later these are now the main type of camera and Kodak is out of business.
Question: What impacts will exponential gains have on things I am interested in?

Code Halos:
How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations Are Changing the Rules of Business
– Malcolm Frank – 2014
Information such as credit score or product reviews can follow a person or object around.

With new technology we are now able to share and store vast amounts of information we would not have been able to in the past. This new information

Economics, Future

Question: what code halos are around me and how can I better utilise them?

The Inevitable:
Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
– Kevin Kelly – 2016

Even if we do not know what specific companies or exact time frame we can predict some future technology trends.
We do not know exactly when, who or how things such as AI, or VR and are clearly coming and coming fast.

Future, Tech

Question: What are some actions that I can take that will get me ready for the inevitable future?


Lean In:
Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

We treat women differently in many ways that may not be negative are because of our culture, are. people in power are often men and that can reinforce itself.

One story from the book that struck me is the idea of a male boss having drinks after work to talk business with a younger female employee. This could be looked at as scandalous for the both but if it was a young male it is fine. Because men are often in power the boss is often a man and it could be a cycle that continues. The same could be said of working late or working in a coworkers hotel room all night.


Question: How can I be more aware of the places in my life that I am biased?

Anything You Want

40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur
– Derek Sivers – 2011
Develop a small group of loyal fans. You can not please everyone.

Make sure that what you do in your business is geared towards pleasing this small group of fans.


Question: How can I find a small group of fans that can not live without my products?

Less Doing, More Living
Make Everything in Life Easier
– Ari Meisel – 2014
Optimize, automate and outsource

You always want to do the minimum to get the most impact. Do not do all the fluff that makes no difference. (80/20) Next if you can have it done automatically that is even better. That way it stays out of your head. Once you set up the system, you do not have to worry about it. After elimination and automation see if someone else can do it.

Question: What can I outsource?
How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
– Shane Snow – 2014

work smart, not hard.

Some ways of working are much better than others. unlike shortcuts, smart cuts get you to where you want in the smartest way possible. look for things such as mentors or experts to get ahead. Learn from failure from useful feedback (and this could be negative feedback). Stand on the shoulders of giants by using platforms and networks. Do not use liner thinking but use smart actions to help turbo boost your success.

Business, Optimize, Work

Question: What have I learned from failure?

Jony Ive:
The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
– Leander Kahney – 2013

Keep your work space minimal to make it easy to focus.
Business, Design, Minimalism
Question: What can I eliminate from my desk or work environment that is not helpful?
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

– Michael Starbird, Edward Burger – 2014
Understand the basics before trying to break them.

First know the rules before you break them. By understanding the deep core of a situation and all of the main elements it will be easier to think and make decisions about how to do something new.

Business, Optimize

Question: What are some rules I know that I am willing to break?

The Power of Less:
The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential … in Business and in Life
– Leo Babauta – 2008
Do what is essential.

We all spend a lot of time doing nonessential things and it makes us feel busy and useful but it is not helpful. By limiting ourselves we allow ourselves to have energy to do more of the really important things.

Minimalism, Optimize
Question: What essential thing should I be doing that I am not right now.

spend time with family, say more positive things

The Everything Store:
Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
– Brad Stone – 2013

Focused on the customer but use data to make the decisions.

The amazon mission is to be the most customer centric company on earth. In order to do this you must use data as a driving force for decision making.

Business, e-commerce

Question: How can I use data to make sure my customers are happy?

watch the checkout process and catch problems or confusion early.
know the price of the competition.

Waking Up:
A Guide to Spirituality without Religion
– Sam Harris – 2014
Spiritual experience exist but we do not have to give them a supernatural explication .

Spiritual experiences can come from all sorts of brain states including mediation or taking drugs. The feeling can include a supernatural type experience but that does not mean it is. Many non believers dismiss these experiences but they are real, just not necessarily supernatural.

Question: What are some mystical experiences that people have and how may they be explained?

The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking:
How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane
– Matt Hutson – 2012

Even as we strive to be rational many ideas in mystical thinking are part of our daily lives.

Rationally we know that magical thinking is not real but we still hold these beliefs even if we consider ourselves rational.

Question: What mystical beliefs do I have?

Cognitive Surplus:
How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators
– Clay Shirky – 2010

We now have more free time and can use it in a lot of new ways.

We now can spend more of our time creating content for others to consume because we have more free time and lower barrier to create and share media.
Business, Future, Tech, Wealth

Question: What surpluses are coming around the corner that are not here now?

data gathered with permission (or without) with little to know extra effort from us. (location data if we turn on geo tracking but is still useful) this type of things plus sharing it with others to get much smarter about signals that impact us. We may do little work but we are still sending or sharing data to make the world better.

lower barrier of entry. only millions, not billions have added to wikipedia.

Identity Economics:
How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being

– George Akerlof and Rachel E. Kranton – 2010
Our identify placed on us by our culture has a large impact on what we find valuable.

This can have a large impact on how we act in ways that are not often thought about in economic terms.

Different societies give different roles to different groups of people. In the USA, traditionally men brought home the income and women kept the house. This type of thinking has an impact on our well being. If a woman has a dirty house she may feel like she is not doing what is expected while a man that is unemployed may feel the same way. Switch the roles and they may both be fine.
Economics, Psychology, Behavioral Economics

Question: How can I work to understand others identify to make sure I act appropriately around them?
getting a better idea of what categories of things impact them in a negative or positive way,

Brain Bugs:
How the Brain’s Flaws Shape Our Lives
– Dean Buonomano – 2011

Evolution did not “design” brains to thrive in the modern world.

The way that our brain has been designed by evolution still leaves a lot of room for us to make errors, especially in the modern world where the shortcuts it evolved are not as useful to modern situations.
Evolution, Psychology

Question: What is an example of a brain bug I have and how can I “fix” it?

I like to eat to much. – i need to make “rules” that are absolute and i can eat healthier.

The Upside of Irrationality:
The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home –
Dan Ariely – 2010

Questioning our decisions can help us understand if we are doing things for the right reason or just following the way they have always been done.

It is not always clear why we make the choices we do. By taking a deep dive into what impacts out choices we can better understand the underline causes of or day-to-day choices.


Question: What are some actions I take for the wrong reason?
The Laws of Simplicity
– John Maeda – 2006

Taking stuff away may be better than adding more bells and whistles.

Anything extra we add will take time or attention away from something else. Eliminating or hiding things that are never or seldom used we can be better than adding new features.

Design, Optimisation

Question: What can I take away from a design that will make the important aspects stand out?

extra words
navigations that is seldom used, not a “fire extinguisher” and having it is not a signal. these are three uses for navigation. getting ride of the items that ar not part of this.

Religion for Atheists:
A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion
– Alain de Botton – 2011
Many cultural aspects of religion can be useful for non believers.

Religion brings more than just a set of beliefs based on faith. Other things that are useful come with religion such as sense of belonging and a social safety net.

Religion, Optimisation
Question: What aspects of traditional religions can I incorporate into my life to make it better?
Predictably Irrational:
The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

-Dan Ariely – 2008
It is useful to understanding some of the ways humans constantly act irrationally

This can be helpful for understanding others and ourselves. We can use this understanding in business, self improvment or just understanding why people act the way they do.

Psychology, Marketing

Question: What are some ways that I see people act irrationally that marketers take advantage of.
The Moral Animal:
Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology.
– Robert Wright – 1994
What we desire, how we think and what we believe is moral evolve in a similar way that biology does.
Ethics, Philosophy, Psychology

Question: What ethical idea may have been useful at one point but no longer is?

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty
How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves
– Dan Ariely – 2012

We are dishonest in a lot of our day-to-day interactions in some way but we still think of ourselves as good people.


Question: Where am I dishonest to myself and others and how can I be more forgiving when I see others being dishonest?

The New Rules of Marketing & PR
How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly
– David Meerman Scott – 2007

To go viral create contnet that people will want to share.

It has to inspire, entertain, be thought-provoking or fascinate the audience. People must look good if they share your content and it must be easy to share. It is not easy to make something go viral but knowing these thing things can help make it more likely.

Business, Marketing, Media

Question: How can I make something that people will want to share?

The Obstacle is the Way:
The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph
– Ryan Holiday – 2014

Do not worry about the things that you can not impact.

This is useless worrying. In many cases we can not change our external world or circumstance but we can change how we think about these things. We can change how we react to a person or situation even when the situation or person is not something we can change. We can have everything we want if we change one of two things. what we have or what we want. Either one will get us closer to having what we want.

Optimize, Philosophy
Question: What do I worry about that I can not impact?

Are You Indispensable?
– Seth Godin – 2010
If you want to be valuable at you job make yourself indispensable.

Anything that involves following instructions will get automated eventually. Try and be a linchpin or person that does not use exact instructions to solves problems.
Business, Economics, Work

Question: What can I do to make ny self indispensable at work?

All Marketers Are Liars
– Seth Godin – 2005

Marketing is about telling a story to people who are open to that story.

Make sure to target people who are open to what you have to say (much easier than changing their minds) and tell them a story about your product that fits their world view. If you want to sell health food to a vegan or palio person you may tell different stories about health.
Business, Marketing
Question: What do the people who I market to already believe?

Thinking, Fast and Slow
– Daniel Kahneman – 2011

Our brain has evolved to uses shortcuts to make decisions.

We have too much information coming in to evaluate all of it so we use short cuts to help our brain deal with the all of the data.This is definitely a good thing but can have a bad outcome in some situation. One shortcut we use is the halo effect. If we see a good aspect of a person we think all aspects of that person are good. We may think good-looking people are nicer or harder working.



Question: Where else do we use shortcuts for better or for worse.

Trust Me, I’m Lying

– Ryan Holiday – 2012
New media as different incentives and this can change the type of news we get.

One example is that many blog writers have incentives to create many posts a day and do not have time to fact check.

Business, Economics, Marketing
Question: How is the news I get influenced by the new media incentives

The Lean Startup
How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses
– Eric Ries – 2014

Make a product your customers want by using feedback to improve.

Your company will be more valuable the more value it delivers to the customer but we must know what the customer really wants and are able to pay money for. Find this out as quickly as possible. Do not worry about all the bells and whistles and instead come out with the minimum viable product and get feedback. Build, measure, learn, repeat.

Business, Marketing

Question: How can I use analytics programs to better serve our customers?

The Paradox of Choice
Why More Is Less
– Barry Schwartz – 2004

We now have more options and choices in many areas of our life and this puts a new level of responsibility on us to make the right decisions.

Because of this new responsibility we may be less satisfied with our decisions. Traditionally people think more options make us better off but this may not be the case in the real world. If we end up choosing the option that is not perfectly optimal we may feel bad and blame ourselves.
Marketing, Psychology, Behaverial Economics

Question: What choices can I limit to help make me happier with my decisions?

Don’t Make Me Think
A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
– Steve Krug – 2000

Do not stray a way from convention when it hurts customer experience.

It can be fun to experiment with new interfaces design and to get creative but people may be used to navigating a site in a specific way. They now the logo links to home page, the left or top is where navigation is and so on. It can be fun to try to get creative but if it is not advantageous to the user it may not be worth doing. Always put the user first.

Design, Marketing, UX, Design

Question: What are some design concepts that may be outdated but stick with us because that is what we’re used to?
Sam Walton:
Made in America: My Story
– Sam Walton – 1992

Pay attention to the competition and use their good ideas.

He also watched as people came to town to shop and went to lots of different stores so he put all the products in one store and stayed open longer.

Question: What ideas can we borrow from other companies.
Growth Hacker Marketing:
A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising
– Ryan Holiday – 2013

Growth hackers build a product with marketing in mind.

traditionally people build a product and then figure out how to market it. Growth hackers build marketing into the product. Some examples apple use are having white headphones and “sent from an iPhone” in mail.

Business, Design, Marketing
Question: How can I change my product to make marketing part of it?
A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being
– Martin Seligman – 2011
We can use positive psychology to go from average to great.

When many people talk about psychological improvement they think about going from bad to average but we can also go from average to great.

Question: what are of my mental health can I go from good to great?

The Smarter Screen:
What Your Business Can Learn from the Way Consumers Think Online
– Shlomo Benartzi – 2015

Information was a scarce resources but now our attention is the scares resource.

We now have more information available then ever before. Because if this our screen must curate the information. We must do a better job of giving people what they want and not everything they could want. Better product recommendation, and only showing people the info that is useful and not everything they could want.
Business, Design, Tech, UX, Design
Question: How can we creat thing that deserve people’s attention.
The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

– Greg McKeown – 2014

We can not do everything and that is ok.

We can not have every experience, skill, or material item. If we think we need all of them then we will never be happy. Focus on what is important.

Business, Design, Minimalism, Optimize, Philosophy

Question: What area of my life do I spend too much time on being good at that pays little dividend.

Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
– Steven Levitt – 2009

Some things we worry about now may not be an issue in the future because of technology or cultural change.
People worried about horse manure in cities before cars became popular. It was a problem that many people were worried about because as the population got larger more people had horses. Horse manure in our city streets is no longer a problem.

Economics, Psychology

Question: What will change in the future and how will that impact how we try to solve current problems.

Why We Buy:
The Science of Shopping
– Paco Underhill – 1999

Make it easy for customers to buy more item from you.
If grocery stores had a few shopping carts around the store you would not see people walking around with hands full of items and no way to buy more.

Commerce, Business, Marketing
Question: How can we make it easier for customers to buy?


Ecommerce – header


– logo

– search

– contact info

– shopping cart indicator

– product category navigation

– site wide promos

– site navigation

– trust signals


header footer template goals:

– Provide constancy to the web experience from page to page

– Provide constancy to the web experiance from other sites to you site

– Always provide a way back home, to search,site map in larger category view in the footer. (can we put all brands and categories on a page) some people may prefer looking that way. Especially repeat customers.

– Give people an little bit of an idea of what the site is about

– Provide high level navigation search and access to contact info.

ecommerce – category list pages

– list of products or sub categories in a category

– top selling items in that category clearly marked

– help finding or choosing the right info for you such as text, downloads, videos …

category page main goals 

make it easy for people to discover and/or find what they are looking or.

give people some information about the products

let people filter products to drill down to find what they need

possibly provide instructions or info in making product choice

product list pages are pages that have a list of products (often name, photo, price and possible other information) and you can view more info about the product before adding to cart or add to cart right from page. These pages are often accessed by navigating the main menu on the site or a search on the site or off such as a link from google. These page are great for discovery, learning a bit about the product options, comparing prices and styles and just generally seeing what the store has to offer.

eCommerce Design – Home Page

Home Page Design

1. Give people an idea of what you site is about. What is your Unique Value Proposition

2. Show people what you sell and help them get to what they want with as little effort as posible.


The home page is an interesting and important page for many eCommerce sites but serves a different purpose depending on the type of site and how people discover your products. This may not be where most people enter your site and be the first impression or the starting point in the shopping experiance.  In other cases users may land on a product detail page from an external website such as google and never visit your home page.

One main goal for the home page is to tell people what your site sells the sites UVP. For a well known site such as Walmart the home page may not have to tell the user the types of product they sell but for smaller or less know brands this is important. This information is often available in the header but the home page gives a little more room to elaborate. For those that do use the home page as a starting point you want to make it as easy as posible for the customer to find what they are looking for. Highlighting a search bar, listing popular products or top categories and showing deals are often great uses of the page. We also want to make sure that people, especially those new to the site or store, trust you and feel they are making a smart decision by choosing your store. This can be done using trust signals such as security badges, awards, social proof, contact and return information, payment information, social mission, or any there reason you are the right choice for the potential shopper.

We must also remember that the home page is often a starting point for other target audiences that may not be the product consumer. Partner such as distributers,  manufactures, potential investors or potential employees will also be looking at yours site to decide if you are a good fit. In this case the customer is not the only target audience and showing trust signals and information geared for these people may be different but just as important as information for the customer.

New types of stores

ECommerce has allows new types of stores to exist. Here are a few new types of stores and sellers that have sprung up with many more to come.

Niche stores
Niche stores that could not survive in any one geographic market may now be successful. No one city has enough interest in a store selling just emergency eyewash stations but now we can have entire on-line stores dedicated to this product line. The store gives users around the world access to a leading expert in the field and a selections and product information no one city can match.  No one geographical market can satisfy many of the niche stores that now can exist on-line. e-commerce stores have a national or global reach and just a few customers per geographic area would not be enough for a brick and mortar but are plenty for a store that has a larger reach. 

Really large on-line stores (amazon)
On-line stores with one website can serve one customer or one million customers. The traditional limitations of a brick and mortar store with limited stock and store space are in contrast to a web site that can have virtually unlimited traffic with little change to the shopping experience. We still have chains and big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy but they need individual stores and have limited store space, location limitations and only so many cashiers. These new large online stores can provide the selection, price and convenience most people need and can scale in ways that traditional retail can not.

Really small stores – low barrier to entry 
We now live in a time where just about anyone can set up a store. We do not need the advanced programing that we did in 1999 or the capital to rent a store front and purchase products to sell that many .

We no longer need to have the capital to purchase or rent a storefront and buy products to sell. Even in the relatively recent on-line world we no longer need the capital to hire a programmer, buy products or pay for employees the way we did in 1999. Services such as Volusion or shopify let you set up a store for $20 a month and give you templates so you need very little experience to get a store on-line. Other services let you add online stores to your current site with the additions of a little bit of code. PayPal allows anyone add the ability to pay on their own site by doing the transaction on the PayPal site with a simple link from your current web page.

Small sellers in marketplaces (eBay) 
Small stores are one thing but now individuals can sell online without having their own shop. eBay lets people list products they have for sale and Craigslist lets people post any item they have free of charge. What makes these even easier is that you do not need to be a business or have any special training at all. Just post the product. EBay takes a commission and allows credit cards while craigslist does not. These marketplaces have a low barrier of entry and eliminate much of the need to market your product because of the built-in audience they have earned.

Why NOT shop online

Many of the obstacles invoved in shopping on-line will change over time as the technology and norms change but here are a few of the reasons people say they choose NOT to shop online.

This has clearly been something that has changed over time but is still an issue for some people. The idea of getting your credit card stolen after putting the information on-line is a serious concern for some. Even if users trust the store or the people at the store that have access to the credit card information some individuals worry about typing the info on the computer and not knowing who has access to this data. The fear of hackers, malware, viruses and other security concerns can be enough for some people to forgo shopping on-line entirely. This may or may not be a legitimate concern in all cases but it is something that is a real issue in the mind of some shoppers.

SIDE NOTE – In some areas of the world people would shop online only if it was COD (colect on delivery) becasue they do not trust that products will get to them.

Do not know and trust the store / things can go wrong
People may not have the same trust of an on-line store when they do not have intimate connections with it the way they do with a local brick and mortar or a larger brand retailer. They may trust because they trust REI the brick and mortar store. The same individual may not trust an unknown sporting good store on-line the same way, even if they have not shopped at or the smaller on-line store. The brand experience or perception can translate from the traditional store to the e-commerce store.

We have more chances for things to go wrong when shopping on-line.
Will it get delivered?
Will the item have a defect?
If not, can I return it?
What if they send me the wrong color or size?
Do I have to pay return shipping?
Do I need to go to the post office and stand in line?
Do I have a restocking fee?

“I could have just gone to a local store but now I have to deal with this hassle.”

Many larger online stores that have a brick and mortar presence do not have to deal with all of these worries as the shopper has experience with them or know they have a brand and reputations to withhold and a physical place to go and fix any problems.

Need the product soon
If you need the product today you may not choose to shop on-line. Some products you want or need right now. You may need the product right away, say for a birthday party later that day, or just want the instant gratification the product gives. Either way, this can be a reason to shop at a close physical store.

Side Note –
This is clearly something amazon is taking into consideration when they are aiming for 1 or 2 hour delivery in some areas with select products. They realize that not all, but some products are needed right away and the 1 or 2 day delivery will not cut it for these situations.

Do not like getting deliveries
For some people getting deliveries can be pain. A box sitting on your front porch does not work in all neighborhoods or for all products. If you have a valuable product sitting on your front steps the anxiety about them getting stolen is too much for many people. Other individuals have to go to the front desk of their apartment complex or must be home to sign for a package.

Cannot see or try on the product in person
Seeing what you are getting in person can make a huge difference for many items people want. Does the clothing fit, is this the right color, what is the fabric like. Is this chair comfortable to sit in, what conditions is this used jacket really in? This will depend on the person and the type of item. If you work at an on-line store that sells these types of products it can be challenging to answer all of these concerns people have.

Every reason that people do not currently buy on-line is an opportunity for innovative stores to fix or eliminate the roadblocks and create new and better shopping experiences. 

Why shop online?

Every person has a diffrent reasons for buying products online but these are some of the popular ones. The main point I want to get across is that diffrent products, diffrent people and diffrent situations all impact what is important in a specific reatail experiance and it is important to understand what your target audience cares about for each product category or use case.

1. Type of Product
2. Use Case
3. Individual shopper


Price will always be an important factor when shopping for almost any product or services. It is much easier to discover the store with lowest price when on-line shopping. If you have to physically visit 10 stores in your area you will often forgo this, as it is to time-consuming to do, especially for a low price item. A visit to Google Shopping, Amazon or a quick Bing search can give you dozens or hundreds of stores selling your desired product while you easily sort by price. This also allows you to search and shop stores all over the country or world opening up price options you would not have had even if you did to choose to visit all of the relevant stores in your city.

Selection is clearly another top reason people choose to shop on-line. This can have to do with a specific store that has thousands of products or the entire e-commerce ecosystem with 100’s of millions. No one brick and mortar store can have close to the selection of an e-commerce website.

To add an additional SKU to a brick and mortar means a larger store, a more cluttered space or eliminating a current SKU. On a website it is as simple as adding another item.

If you skip the individual store you can start your search on Google and instantly browse the entire web or start on a marketplace such as Amazon or eBay and search many trusted and vetted sellers.

When shopping online you have an ubbundance of SKUs for customers to choose from without the limitations of a traditional brick and mortar shopping experience.

Many people would rather do a few clicks sitting on the coach than drive around town from shop to shop. It is not always more convenient but for some people, some of the time it is convenience that can make the difference. Of course what is convenient depends on the person, the product and the use case. Many e-commerce companies work hard to make the purchasing of products as easy as possible for their target audience.

Amazon is doing a great job with making it so easy to shop.
1. Scan a barcode and find it on amazon – one click after that.
2. Scan the product (take a picture) and find it on amazon – one click after that.
3. Pysical Dash button – one click.
4. Virtual Dash button – one click
5. Order by voice
6. Amazon Go / no checkout line / no cash
7. Easy to see what you recentely ordered – one click after that.
other ideas:
1. Text your your order: send me sku 12345, or send me my last order. – a link to the price and a response of YES is all it needs to be sent
2. Text “resend last order” or “send 2 boxes of the same toilet paper from the last order”


We may be able to get the information we want on-line easier than we can in the store. Again, this depends on the type of product, the use case and the individual shopper. In some cases we can not get all the info on-line.  We need to see or touch the item to know if it is for us. That said, we often can get more info including reviews, spec sheets and videos about the product right from the website or app and be able to make a better product decisions than just going to the store.

online informations it may be hard to get in store:
– Video of the product in use
– Reviews or testimonials
– Specifcation sheet data
– Information about the company

A business of nuance and change

The main points I want to get across in looking at e-commerce theory is that it, like any kind of retail, it is a business of nuance and change.

1. The type of online retail experience that is perfect for one shopper; product or situation will not always work for another.

Each selling situation has different:
– types of products
– types of customers
– situations the customers are in.

2. As new technology and norms come into existence we have a chance to change how some people with some products in some circumstances choose to shop. It is important to understand these nuances as we work to make better shopping experiences for these individual niches.

Next day shipping is important in some situations and not others. Some individuals only care about price and others about convenience. Some products i can wait weeks for while others I want in 5 minutes. We must be careful when making overreaching general statements about all online shopping situations.

Jeff Bezos from Amazon has been famous for saying the customers will always want low prices, fast delivery and a large selection. These are probably good general rules but as we will see these are not equally important in all situations.

Let’s look at a few examples of products, individuals or situations that will determine what we look for in an online retail experience

Type of product:

– Does it need to fit just right or is it standard size for all?
– If it is not what I wanted or expected, what will I loose?
– Does it have a material I need to touch?
– What if I have to return it?
– Is it to big to ship?
– Do I have enough information if i can not see it in person?

Type of customer:
– Do I feel comfortable putting financial data online?
– Does my shipping address safely accept deliveries?
– Do I trust a store where I can not see or talk directly to a person?
– Am I tech savvy in general?

Type of situations
– Do I need this now, soon, next week, next month?
– Do I enjoy the act of in store shopping?
– If it comes late what will I loose?

As new technology and customer norms change we will be able to find new and better ways to fit more products into the e-commerce equation. We will slowly be able to provide better experiences for each of these three areas and in the process more and more products will be purchased in new ways, many of these online. 

Retailers need to understand the changes happening both technologically and culturally and utilizing creative thinking or the new norms to make sure that they stay relevant to the customers, use cases and types of products they are currently fulfilling with their business model.