Printed Matter is the world's largest bookstore dedicated to artists' books. Starting in 2010, I worked with Linked by Air on its new design. Then, our initial were about how to connect the physical location to the website, and that's where first the idea of "tables" began.
The final design, launched in 2013, forefronts the "tables" feature by presenting a carousel of featured tables on the top of the homepage. A table is like a visual Amazon wishlist. In lieu of purchasing items, you can save them to your table. You can then customize your table: you can change the position of the books, the background color, and the associated objects. (Book cover images on tables are scaled to match their physical version.) You can tag your table and add a description. The tables were designed to be flexible: for Printed Matter, sometimes the description is actually an essay that came before, and the items on the table simply footnoted titles. Anyone, from Printed Matter staff to first-time web visitor, can create a table.
The site also features a distinctive pink product lightbox, letting users easily navigate the website without getting lost. The events' page uses a color code of a sunset. The series of membership icons together vaguely resemble cellular mitosis, but then grow into the form of a book. The search feature combines basic and advanced search at once. The cart resembles the product lightbox, and “Your cart” turns pink when it has items inside it.
I always wonder what the right balance between usefulness and novelty to strike with these sorts of websites. The idea of tables is novel and useful; but it seems in actuality, only Printed Matter staff really use the feature. Specific aspects of complex features like this get broken (for example, I cannot currently "embed" a table as an iframe — we hoped they could be like YouTubes), but I wonder if that's necessarily a bad thing. Imaginative functionality is important, even if it's only a trace of what was, as it's still a sketch for a more ideal world.