Last month I had lunch with user experience managers at eBay. We discussed the challenges of designing a marketplace in which buyers and sellers game the system. For example, sellers have learned to increase sales by misclassifying individual components as complete systems. They know that users who search for mountain bikes may also buy accessories they don't know they want or need. And, while the resulting clutter can be frustrating, hardcore buyers enjoy the thrill of the hunt that eBay affords. They don't want the search to be easy.
This resonates with my latest passion: singletrack mountain biking. I don't love riding the Poto despite the fierce climbs and descents, the deadly rocks and roots, and the treacherous sand and mud. I love the experience precisely because of the danger and difficulty. It's fun because it's hard (and beautiful).
I suspect that's why the smart folks I've met at eBay love their work. They're dealing with amazingly complex user experience strategy and design challenges that quite simply make your head hurt. Sounds like fun!
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