How do you keep track of what you want? Do you use Amazon wish lists? Do you share them with your friends? How's that working out for you? Get any good gifts lately? Moreover, what do you do with items that aren't sold on Amazon?
Enter Whimventory. It's an app for making and sharing shopping wishlists. You click a bookmarklet or browser extension on any shopping page, and it saves a link, an image and the price. It will solve problems for anyone who buys things (or wants things). It's simple. That's all I have to explain. But Whimventory is too high-quality to leave it at that. I want to show you more.
Whimventory. Now that's an app name. It contains vowels, it doesn't sound like "dildo," and it doesn't rip anybody off. But more importantly, it means something. Keep an inventory of things to buy on a whim. Simple. Quality, simplicity and meaning are Whimventory's modus operandi. It earned its intrepid founders a sign-up and a blog post from me, and it deserves much more. Allow me to show you around.
Nice splash screen, right? Bold, original, easy to understand. That's the work of Luke Connolly, Whimventory's creative director. He's an experienced Web designer who likes HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, and he cares about usability across devices. Why do I know this? I met him on Twitter (@lconnolly). He's an Internet friend. We share thoughts, links and jokes with each other. He happens to make something awesome, and I wanted to write about it. No pitching, no embargoes. Just sharing.
Under the hood, Whimventory has the same elegance:
That's from Amazon.com, using the Whimventory bookmarklet. I didn't have to fill it in. All I did was click the mouse one time, and all the information was there. You can add any item for sale on the Internet the same way, although sometimes you have to type in the price or change the name. If the item's price changes later, you'll have to update that, too. Is that too much of a hassle for you? Well, good thing Whimventory is working on doing it automatically, starting with Amazon items.
Whimventory's engineering comes from CTO Oliver Jensen. He was an engineering intern at Google, and he's studying for a PhD in computer science, having double-majored in CS and math in college. I emailed him with a bug I found, and he was grateful. This is how you run a Web app, folks.
Whimventory In Action
If you still can't think of a way to use Whimventory, here is an obvious example: For some stupid lack of a reason, the iTunes store doesn't have a wishlist feature. That's okay, because Whimventory exists. Just click the bookmarklet on the iTunes Web page for the app, and the problem is solved. You can create multiple wishlists - e.g. apps, books, Star Wars action figures - and save new items directly to the right place.
In addition to managing your own lists, you can save others' lists as favorites, and you can import lists from Excel files or straight from Amazon. You can download them as Excel files, too. Whimventory users can also recommend products to each other and share with outside social networks.
Solving The Gifting Problem
But let's be honest. The real reason we want to keep online wishlists is for getting gifts, right? Shopping for other people is difficult, and Whimventory wants to take the guesswork out of it. "Asking for things is a little awkward," Connolly says. Whimventory gives users a place to share the things they want without having to ask.
"Seeing what my friends were shopping for would make it easy to get something similar or complementary to their favorite stuff," says Connolly. "If nothing else, you would at least have a subtle way of discovering their shoe size."
But the expertise of other Whimventory users can also help one shop for oneself. "Browsing the shopping bag of a professional photographer could be extremely valuable," Connolly says, "and comparing the bags of several pros would give me a truly well balanced, expert opinion on the best gear available."
Whimventory fills a need for shopping tools that aren't beholden to any particular seller. It can be used by anyone for any product. People don't even have to sign up for Whimventory to buy you something on your list. Lists have general privacy controls, including optional password protection, and Connolly says they will probably narrow down to access controls by individual user.
What Does It Need?
I can't be all love, of course. No Web app is perfect. I've found only one interface problem in an otherwise stellar experience, which is that the controls for moving an item between lists are not in the 'edit item' window. They appear when you check an unlabeled checkbox in the top-left corner of an item. But that's an easy one. I mostly bring it up so you hordes of new Whimventory users know how to do this.
The major feature Whimventory needs is more discovery tools. It's hard to find more users on Whimventory and browse their lists. I'd like a directory, even if it's just built around finding lists by topic, so I could discover new connoisseurs to follow.
Does Whimventory have a business model? Duh. It's a site for freaking shopping lists. It could have boring ads, or it could have more interesting ways to connect sellers and buyers. But don't wait for that future. The holidays are coming up, and Whimventory is an example of quality, focus and functionality on the Web that you can use right now.
Share your Whimventory holiday shopping lists in the comments!