As Web developers, we’re at the mercy of our clients budgets.  There is always something else that can be added to a Web site to make the user experience that much better, but of course you do need to stop somewhere.  There is that delicate balance of adding the right features that equal the right return on investment without being overkill.

I just came across one of those things I’ve always wanted to see on an e-commerce Web site.  It’s actually come up a few times, but we’ve never been able to get a client to implement it. 

So today is Capture the Flag day at work.  It’s a pretty dead week around here between two major holidays, so we decided to have some fun this afternoon.  We’ll be playing by the official Boy Scout Handbook Capture the Flag rules of 1947.  Is there any other way to play?  But I digress…

So I ordered a couple of pizzas from for the staff.  A little clunky getting the coupon to work, but once the order was completed I was given the choice to view my pizza’s progress.  Intrigued, I clicked on it and was really impressed.  Dominos has the infrastructure in place with their computer systems to do this pretty easily.  As my pizzas pass through different steps, I see the chart move and a time stamp.  For example, I just learned “Your order was boxed and placed in a HeatWave™ bag at 5:14 PM.”

domino's pizza tracker

This is pretty cool for pizza’s because I can keep the window opened and watch the entire process since it’s so short.  But what I’d love to see is more use of this user experience enhancement on other e-commerce sites.  Sure, we’ve all received emails to tell us our order was shipped, but wouldn’t you love more? 

I’m not just talking about when the order was packed, prepared, sent, delivered, etc (we’ve done that before with some really cool bar code integration), but even cooler.  For example we’ve done a few Web sites for different boat manufacturers.  In one case we toured the production facility and learned that each boat being built is already spoken for by a customer (just like my pizza, it’s custom made). 

By the way, it’s 5:18 and my pizzas are now in a car.

Anyhow, back to the boats.  So I was thinking it would be super cool to not only get alerts as a customer when your boat was assembled, went to paint, had the toilet installed, etc, but to add a link to a Web cam where you could actually see this.  Nothing too invasive, but more of an overhead shot of the production line.  All they’d need to do is add a sign to the top of each boat with a customer id number. 

If you spent $200,000 on a new cruiser, wouldn’t you spend the day staring at it?  Plus there is the added bonus of your employees knowing someone is watching.  Free supervisors!

Anyhow, I’d like to do more of that.  So if you’re a client of ours and are reading this, please let us do it.  It’d be so cool.

Gotta go.  Pizza’s here (dominos is practically across the street).


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