This last Christmas, I decided to order the majority of my family and friends’ gifts online. I started picking out gifts in October – a titanium spork for my brother, a set of cufflinks fashioned from laptop keyboard keys for my Dad – and bookmarked the product pages. Given my penchant for going all-out when buying Christmas gifts, my wife’s extensive family, and a circle of friends and well-wishers who know that I love giving Christmas presents (and conveniently make contact with me just before the holidays every year), over a period of a week I had amassed over a hundred bookmarks for possible gifts. Well, I thought to myself, that is that. Now I’ll just wait for my next paycheck, order the gifts I’ve bookmarked, and I’ll be all finished with the shopping.
Over a month later, after being reminded of the impending holiday by my wife, I went back through my bookmarks to start ordering. Over a month, though, my list had metamorphosed. What I had wasn’t a comprehensive list of thoughtful gift ideas; thanks to my highly fallible memory it had become an enormous pile of disorganized and random product links. I had no idea which gift was meant for whom nor did I remember why I’d even included some of the gifts at all. If I’d only known about KartMe, I wouldn’t have had those problems.
KartMe allows you to create lists (called “karts”) of anything you like from all across the web, then review and share your lists with friends. You can follow other members’ lists, invite people to follow your lists, comment on list items, and compare product prices with ease. What sort of items can you add to your lists? Recipes, shoes, movies, restaurants, reviews, books, gifts, and, well, anything else you can name. You can also take KartMe with you wherever you go by using their iPhone app or by visiting m.kartme.com from any internet-enabled phone.
The KartMe sign-up process is easy and is followed by a quick guide on how to add two important buttons to your favorites bar that will get you started creating lists. The “Kart This For Later” button enables you to “kart” any webpage you are on, which puts the product or review on a list for you. KartMe’s “Kart This For Later” technology automatically parses prices, images and addresses for later review. The second button you add will take you directly to your karts so you can see the items you’ve listed so you may begin sharing, rating, and commenting on them.
You can also add items to your lists by using KartMe’s comprehensive search engine, found on their homepage, which groups search results by type and scours Amazon and Yelp for results. Very helpful when searching for, say, books about Winston Churchill and not wanting to sift through search results about places names Churchill or recipes for “Winston’s Favorite Cornbread”.
Users can invite other KartMe members to review their lists or simply email a link to their lists from the Kartme website to anyone who might be interested in it. While emailing a list called “Chris’s Birthday Wish List – You’d Buy These Things For Him If You Loved Him” to my family lacks subtlety, it certainly gets the message across.
KartMe’s website is well-designed and easy to navigate. Things seem to be put in the right places and I was never more than a click away from my karts. A little while after I signed up, I received a message in my KartMe inbox from Phil, the founder of KartMe, inviting me to follow one of his karts. Indeed, this email is undoubtedly sent to every new member, but it certainly adds a little touch of personality, which goes a long way when you’re just starting to use a new web service.
KartMe also provides recommendations based on items you’ve karted, which seem to be pretty helpful. When KartMe noticed that I was creating karts about books, it began recommending other users’ book-centric karts to me. The recommendations, though automated, seem well chosen and I’ve come to look forward to them whenever I log into KartMe.
While many KartMe members seem to enjoy collecting recipes, I have to say that my favorite way to use KartMe so far has been for doing price comparisons. While many might consider me “cheap” or a “tightwad”, I prefer the term “frugal” when it comes to spending money (except on Christmas gifts), especially when it’s on something non-essential like a new wireless router. By using the integrated price-comparison tool in KartMe, I was able to search three separate times during a one-week time period, keep my list of potential purchases organized, and finally buy an 802.11N router for what I consider to be a steal. I foresee that KartMe could save me a lot of money in the future.
With the massive influx of information we get when browsing the web, it can be difficult to keep track of all the amazing things one finds. KartMe solves this organizational problem simply and elegantly by digitizing what we normally do to keep track of things we won’t remember; we make a list. This simple thing (which is actually quite a technological feat), in combination with KartMe’s extensive features for sharing, comparing, and ultimately creating a community in which like-minded people can enjoy things that interest them, creates a winning combination.