Yesterday I referred to an article that covered, in part, the pitfalls of trying to buy a new computer. The tragedy of attempting this task is partially generated in the way that the consumer is reached. Companies end up creating so many pre-built machines, with no discernable difference between models, that the public is left in a sea of electronic rectangles. The buyer becomes confused and disoriented, grasping at straws to figure out which model is best. It is this state of user confusion that I will address today.
I believe that the computer market can be simplified by addressing three key components. First, the consumer must have access to information about each part of a computer, including the unit as a whole. This should be clear enough for your grandmother to figure out, yet detailed enough for die-hard tech nuts.
Next, a sorting system should be put in place. This will let each user either sift through pre-built models or build his computer from the ground up, if he so chooses.
Last, an interactive website is key. The website will join the first two components. Information can be paired with images and prices, and the sorting system will guide the user through as much, or as little, detail as necessary.
Now I would like to provide a simple explanation for what I would like to see in a computer sorting system:
It is important to start with the most encompassing unit and move down through the most specific units. The tower (or case, for laptops) is first. It holds every other piece of hardware. After that, the motherboard is next. As an example, the sorting software will be able to take the X case and tell the user that only A, B, and C motherboards will fit in X. If the D motherboard is too large or small, it will not be available for access in the next step.
Once the motherboard is chosen, options for the processor are addressed. This is followed by the type and amount of RAM. After that comes graphics cards, sound cards, hard drives and optical drives. It is easy to see that each successive choice is dependent on the choices before it, yet the choices which follow have less dependants. For instance, a motherboard carries the RAM, graphics card and sound card. But the graphics card doesn’t plug directly into the sound card or RAM.
As far as website implementation of a sorting system, I would like to see a list of the products that may and may not work with my chosen motherboard. If, in the right-hand pane of discarded items, I see a graphics card that I like (but doesn’t work with my currently selected motherboard) I should be able to click it and see which motherboards are compatable.
Upon first glance at this idea, it seems like the sorting system will be as complex as anything currently available. The mapping of each product will be intense, to say the least. In the end, though, I believe that the final, visual, website driven product can be user friendly. If the model is consistent, and if the user knows that he is working from top to bottom, he will see progression or regression of the entire process and will be able to make informed decisions.
To press slightly forward, I believe a user should be easily able to move through each component while building his own, start-from-scratch PC. But what if he wants a pre-built machine? The sorting system can sort that out with the same map created to handle individual pieces. Let’s say that Ms. Smith wants to purchase a family system, complete with large screen and capable WiFi support. She will be able to start from WiFi cards/adaptors and look at every standard build that contains that card. If the card is specialized – and perhaps not available in a standard build – similar cards can be recommended by the sorter and pre-built machines with the new WiFi can be shown.
In the end, everything will revolve around the map of products and the increasing use of the map. Users will enjoy functionality and ease of use, and they will stay longer at websites to purchase a product, instead of leaving in frustration. Manufacturers will take note of customer satisfaction and they will, in turn, produce more capable information on each unit, allowing for betterment of the product map.
A reciprocal relationship between consumers, vendors, and manufacturers will benefit everyone. The end user will get what he wants, he will be informed and less frustrated with the system. Vendors will see profits rise as they use product maps and large-to-small building processes. Manufacturers will be in tune with the needs and wants of the consumer, drawing on multiple map designs, varying map implementations, and an increased number of specified builds, where customers decide and receive exactly what they are after.