This ain't yo daddy's Amazon.com

Amazon.com is an interesting adventure in user experience.

For a time, it was the sine qua non of web UI, just because it was so successful. And many tried to copy it. Then most of us realized: Amazon can do what Amazon is doing because Amazon is Amazon … and you can’t because you’re not.

Circular, illogical, and annoying, but unfortunately true.

Tab-licious
Remember the millions of tabs? I grabbed this screenshot from WakeUpLater. I think that at points there were even more:

Listing to the left
And then, of course, the weighty left-hand nav, loaded with things you might want to do, places you might want to go:

Amazon has always had a busy, cluttered, confused user interface, but they’ve always gotten away with it because when ecommerce buyers grow up with you, they learn you, they know you, they grok you, and they love you. And Amazon was our first buy-online girlfriend.

Apple-like?
But something is a little different at Amazon.com today:

What’s this at Amazon? White space? No tabs? No heavy left nav? It’s almost Apple-like in its simplicity, you might be tempted to think.

Well, no. It’s still ugly. It’s still unbalanced – a UI only a mother could love.

Personalization
There is space and breathing room – must have been an edict from Jeff Bezos. And obviously there’s a massive focus on one of Amazon’s key strategic weapons, the Kindle e-reader/tablet. But the overwhelming change is massive, perhaps almost complete personalization.

Almost every single item on the Amazon home page is focused squarely on me:

  • what I’ve bought recently
  • what I’ve searched for recently
  • what might go with things I’ve purchased in the past
  • tools and apps to help me manage and consume my purchases

The site is mine
Gone is the heavy nav and million tabs. The site is not what Amazon is, the site is what Amazon is for me (yes, with some corporate strategy driven exceptions, I concede).

Personalization? Where’s the social?
That’s an interesting shift, of course, and one that has been happening for years of course, but it begs the question: where’s the social? I could imagine some juicy cool integrations with Facebook, the social graph, and Facebook’s new actions.

Unfortunately, I imagine, both Facebook and Amazon would have strategic concerns with such an alliance.

 


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