Corbis Revamps Web Site

Posted on 6/1/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

“In refreshing the site, we wanted to provide the best customer experience possible,” says Pablo Supkay, product owner for Corbis has redesigned all of the user interactions across the site, from price check to lightbox functionality, in an effort that took an entire year.

The process began by building an in-house team with expertise in user-centered Web design. Supkay says this is unusual: “Companies often hire outside vendors. This can lead to problems when the vendor does not understand the industry or customer needs.”

Corbis also conducted in-depth usability research. The redesign process included one-on-one usability studies that resulted in numerous course adjustments. The final pre-launch step was an external beta test with 100 customers.

In creating the new design, the company strove for elegant simplicity, avoiding clutter and providing a simplified, intuitive interface. During usability testing, buyers responded best to the dark, muted tones, because these best set off the images.

Many of the new site’s features—for instance, the rotating cover stories and drop-down search filters—are relatively commonplace in purpose and function. Some might perceive this as a lack of innovation; however, there is something to be said for the use of new technologies to make already popular features work better.

As such, the site is an incremental improvement, as opposed to a radical shift. Corbis developers have tried to address the two customer wants that emerged as most prominent in its research: buyers want to understand how agencies organize their content and to reduce keyword dependence. Examples of features that address these include pop-up descriptions of image categories and new “related image” functionality that highlights photos from the same shoot or those that cover the same story or event.

When it comes to related images, Corbis research suggests that most buyers want to target relationships between photos that cannot be revealed by visual recognition algorithms that look for similarities in composition or color. As such, the new functionality of the Corbis site is entirely dependent on previous work by human editors.

There is also a host of other new features in every area of the Web site. Some of these include large roll-over image previews and pop-up pricing layers on search-result pages, the ability to add images to a shopping cart without pricing them first and more intuitive rights-managed pricing screens.

In Supkay’s opinion, the new site works more like an application than a typical search mechanism. He also stresses that “this launch is just the beginning. It’s never possible to do everything you want to do, or you’ll be waiting forever. The site is really a new platform for future development—larger releases and new features are coming,” Supkay concludes.

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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