Having spent the past two months rebuilding the two-dimensional LWA US Shopping Mall site from the ground up, I uploaded it a few days ago and have now started adding some extras to make visiting even more interesting.
A lady e-mailed me the other day and mentioned that she had only discovered that the Information button led to a link board that allowed visitors to go directly to any department after she had been wandering around the departments by clicking on the links in the walkways on the several visits she had made to the mall so far! It's funny how easy it is to assume people will know what things are when, actually, there is no reason why they should.
Finding a solution to the problem of presenting special offers and coupons without a) making the mall look unsightly and b) having to make changes in almost every department on an almost daily basis wasn't too difficult. Every department has a treasure chest somewhere in it. Part of the fun is scrolling down the page looking at the different stores and coming across an open treasure chest! Where there are no special offers or coupons available, the lid of the chest is closed and there is no link so visitors won't have their time wasted by visiting an empty page. Open chests are linked to pages like this one, for example. In case you are curious, the open treasure chest that leads to that page shouldn't be too hard to find on this page and this arrangement is repeated all over the mall.
Some of the 1300 merchants whose stores populate the mall have produced short videos to help the visitor get acquainted with specific products or the company and, having watchd a few, I thought it would be great fun to share the experience with our visitors. On the other hand, I wanted visitors to be able to choose whether to view a video or not - I find it so irritating when a video that doesn't interest me loads automatically on a page I am viewing and I didn't want to do that to anyone else!
Having created a page for each video I want to make available, I made a little camera icon and one of these appears in the relevant department, next to the 'store' of the merchant who provided each video. If you scroll down the page you'll see the little icon to the left.The video page opens in a new window, too, so a visitor who is wandering from one department to another doesn't get whisked away and have to start again. Here's a video I particularly enjoyed watching and the page it is linked from. Gradually, I will add more videos as they become available.
LWA now has a toolbar that visitors can download for free - there are lots of useful and fun things on it, as well as a drop-down menu of links to LWA sites and Google search. A little fly-over banner appears at the very top of the page until the visitor chooses to download the toolbar or close the banner. After that it will not reappear. There is another link at the foot of the page in case someone closes the banner and then wishes they had tried the toolbar after all. There is a menu of fun things to do (crosswords, sudoku etc) on the toolbar as well as a pop-up blocker and a radio that visitors can add their favorite stations to and a customizable e-mail alert too.
The cinema now has a wide screen showing movie previews provided by Amazon and we have also created some slideshows of our favorite products available at Amazon for some of the departments - again, on pages that open in new windows when a link is clicked on. Here's an example of one.
Another new feature is the LWA Glimpse pages. We select a merchant and visit the website. The resulting review is posted on a Glimpse page and an icon of a stylized eye can be found next to the store of the merchant whose website is featured. Gradually, we will get around to all the merchants in the mall! Here's one I particularly enjoyed doing and you can see the 'eye' icons next to the 'store' here and here because that particular merchant is in two departments.
Another new feature is PopShops, little stores containing product have selected from a merchant's stock and which opens in a new window. There are a small handful of those so far. Here's one full of Halloween goodies that I just made and here's the page where the pumpkin icon leads to it from. Having just joined DataFeedFile and GoldenCAN I am going to venture into the world of data feed and see whether we can offer visitors even more rich experiences!
Let's hope everyone likes the new vesrsion - if not it won't be for lack of effort in trying to make LWA US Shopping Mall as enjoyable as I can!