Here is a revisit of the Nostalgia Zone comics store design, a quick and dirty comic book site done with my interpretation of Jakob Nielsenism, as found on http://www.useit.com/. The idea was to create an ultra low tech, easily maintainable site that could actually be used by humans.
Yeah, I finally broke down and programmed a very simple "phrase only" search cgi that returns lists of comics as people expected from early searching tests. Put it on every page a la eBay and Yahoo. People use it repeatedly. Does it really help? Yes, it does sell more stuff.
I broke up the big catalog lists into small categories. The initial user testing showed that the previous lists were too big. It also showed that people who know what they are looking for will recognize the category and go right to it. And those are people who buy. Most categories are less than 10kb and very few are 100kb. So now content relevance is higher and the download is much quicker.
The main page is still the center of the site and has the same basic look,(I tried a simple layout in the lowest tech HTML ever written), the search, even more links, and same shallow navigation design. Back-Button navigation is still a central control form navigation. The page serves as the site index as well. There are still no graphics except the logo. No scans of comics, nothing. This is to keep the site fast and the labor cost low.
Search engines Google and Yahoo brings in most of the traffic. Analysis of the web logs showed that half the people coming in ended up in a list of comics with no navigation hints. When testing users entering the site from other than the home page they were totally lost. Navigation was improved by adding a home page and order page link to each page on the site as well as a search. It worked, letting people find the order page and keeping people on the site longer.
This stage of setting up separate category lists in the delimited field ascii format and a search cgi took more time than the initial whack at the site, but still it was relatively minimal and used the results of testing the previous site to come up with a workable search.
Another round of cheap Jakob Neilsenistic testing is underway, the results will be used again for changes to the site. People keep asking about credit cards. I do not know much about them at this time, but they are needed as the store accepts them.