Managing Sessions

I've been meaning to do more customization here at, as the current cookie-cutter design isn't really what I want to do with the site.

But first I have to take care of some bidness. I spend the better part of the afternoon working on the new user login system over at

Nothing to demo as of yet, but it was quite an education learning about how sessions and HTTP headers work.

I also finished some more of the Plagiarist Shopping Cart database design, and I think am finally finished tweaking what information I'll need or want to request from customers.

So I spent an hour or so looking at some of the big boys in terms of e-commerce to see what they did. So I took a look at the steps involved at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Outpost, and Staples, to see how they structured their user sessions and logins.

I think the green-side up way of doing it is to never require a user to log-in until they're ready to make a purchase, or add things to their cart. That way they can browse the site, read descriptions, etc., and they won't have to fill in any info about themselves.

I've also decided on completely server-side persistant cart entries - Amazon does this - you can use any computer in the world as long as you log into their site, they know what you've added to your cart, your wishlist, your list of "Friends", and so forth.

They also use cookies for persistence between browser sessions - something I may also do.

You really can't go wrong modeling one of the biggest success stories on the web. Our products are completely different (although I wouldn't mind marketing the Plagiarist PoetryNotes through but some things are e-commerce universals.

Now I'm off to read Jakob Nielsen's take on e-commerce.

And I expect my merchant account to be finally set up tomorrow. Sweeeeeet...