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thoughts and observations about design, information architecture and design history
Friday 11|22|02
Amazon Speaks

Interesting interview by Mark Hurst of Good Experience with Maryam Mohit of Amazon.com. Mark Hurst probes into Amazon's customer research secrets and how they have acheived their successful customer experience.

“For us, it's a combination of listening really hard to customers, and innovating on their behalf. For example, quite awhile ago we developed the "similarities" feature - the one that says "people who bought this also bought that." In focus groups, no customer ever specifically requested that feature. But if you listened to customers talk about how they buy things, they'd say, my friend bought this, and I like what they like. In other words, they get recommendations from people they trust. There was a cognitive leap, based on those comments, to realizing that we could create something like that based on the data we had. That's an example where there was a need expressed by customers, but the innovation was taking that general need and making the leap to a technology that meets that need in a new way. ”

Everyone should be so lucky to work somewhere where all these different aspects of the customer and their needs are measured and listened to.


Posted by erin at 08:50 AM | in Amazon :: | Link | Comments (1)

Thursday 10|18|01
Amazon redesigns their redesign

Amazon recently redesigned their product page with tab like divisions of all the info on the page. Their discrete chunking of information seemed to make the page slightly more organized and easier to navigate tons of info associated with the product.

Lots of discussion on the SIGIA list about the tabs and more discussion on

Elegant Hack about whether or not this was a good solution to the problem of tons of content. And whether or not the tabs were anb appropriate metaphor for the chunking.

My own opinion is that the tabs within tabs, with different behavior (one set at the top is like file folders - different info within each bucket, while the lower set is a chunking of info all related to the single topic - the product page) can be confusing to end users. But because the tabs in this case are very differently realized - the top are tabs, the inner ones look more like tabby buttons - I think they probably are ok. We dealt with this issue a lot with the AV 2.0 redesign in 2000. We used tabs for discrete navigation of areas in the network, but there were mini tabs on the search box (like Google) that actually performed searches in different databases on the same query in the field. Confused? Imagine how our users felt.

In that case, our tabs were very close together and in some cases had similar names. I think the Amazon solution is different. Distance separates them, the top ones scroll off before the inner tabs are seen and the names are clear.

Well - they have reverted back to the old design. Despite tons of conversation in the industry about the proposed new design, I am not sure going back was better.

Here is the Amazon Tabs in Tabs (99k jpg at full size)


Posted by erin at 10:14 AM | in Amazon :: | Link

Thursday 10|11|01
Amazon segments product page

UPDATE: They have since taken this down. UPDATE

Amazon has done a makeover on the basic product page. They have segmented all the info that used to be on the page into different categories accessible via tabs. I really like how this cleans up the page and aggregates like type information together. It makes the initial page seem less overwhelming and puts the ownership of information access back into the hands of the end user. The pages are still long and full of info but seem to be more organized. It will also allow for 4 times the amount of info/monetization that can be associated with any one product. They also have duplicate tab set at the bottom of the page for easy access after scrolling down.

Very smart strategy.


Posted by erin at 02:24 PM | in Amazon :: | Link

Wednesday 08|29|01
More Amazon Shenanigans

Being a frequent Amazon user, I am constantly on the site spending all my extra cash and browsing around to see what they are doing. I was pleased with the changes they have made with checkout - their 6 step process is now a one-pager. If you haven't seen it - buy something and check it out. After my last post about Erin's Store, I got an email from a developer at Amazon giving me some hints that they were testing out some new things.


more...
Posted by erin at 06:38 PM | in Amazon :: | Link

Thursday 08| 9|01
Article on the Amazon Store concept

After posting the My Store thoughts and image of the tab, I have found an article about it.

Amazon's Bezos touts personalization - Info World

Peterme also pointed me to the blog of the designer who worked on this feature.

The tab still hasn't come back.


Posted by erin at 04:12 PM | in Amazon :: | Link

Tuesday 07|31|01
Amazon is at it again

I was browsing around Amazon the other day and I noticed a new tab in their navigation. I have followed their navigation since they started with one row of tabs, tried the awful two rows and then settled on the popular sections. After all I am an IA and navigation competitive analysis is something I do a lot. So when I noticed this new tab

I was very surprised it had MY name on it. I think it is important to note that the tab didn't say "My Store" but said "Erin's Store". That personalized difference, made all the difference to my noticing it and wondering about it. They seem to be experimenting with all aspects of customizing and personalizing. As you view items they often show in the left column a panel called "Page you made" - but this was a whole tab. Clicking into the section revealed that this was the aggregate of my stuff - Wish list, Recommendations, Favorite people - buying circles, Expert lists etc. This really was representative of my stuff. I was very impressed that they had come up with the technology to create the tab on the fly from my cookie but at the same time - similar to the last time I felt oddly spied upon. Like they knew too much about me. After all I didn't ask for this.

I would like to think that they are really learning about how to use the things they collect and turn it around to valuable offerings for the customer. Not intrusive but relevant. In the recommendations area, in order to stop being shown items I already own, I have had to go into the site and explicitly say I own it. On the one hand they are showing me things I am interested in, after all I bought the stuff - just not at Amazon. On the other hand, they don't reflect early purchase made on Amazon so requires a fair amount of work on my part to make the feature really useful to me and not intrusive. If the homepage only shows me stuff I already own or am not interested in, then they are wasting extremely valuable real estate. Just throwing it away.

The idea of a tab on the site, with my name on it, is very intriguing. It implies I have a vested interest in the company and in the content. The ideas that come to mind about sharing my tab with others or further customizing to delete whole sections of the site are intriguing and open to a wide array of cool as well as disturbing ideas. I wonder who else is doing stuff like this in the ecommerce space? Who else is this bold and willing to experiment on their "live" site?

I noticed on my next visit to Amazon, that the tab was gone. I look forward to my tab coming back.


Posted by erin at 09:58 PM | in Amazon :: | Link | Comments (2)

Friday 04|20|01
Member Preferences, Ratings and Reading My Mind

I have been surfing Amazon and other sites trying to understand the scope of polls and ratings and how they are implemented and differ from one type of site to another. As I have been browsing around Amazon, I discovered the Collections area and Recommendations Explorer area had grown and had a listing of everything I had ever bought. It was kind of eerie to go through, but also kind of cool. I had been wanting the site to stop showing me items I owned as items I would like to own. I figured that the software developers at Amazon had to be creating something smart enough to keep track of what I had bought, therefore it should know not to recommend something to me that I already owned.


more...
Posted by erin at 04:33 PM | in Amazon :: | Link

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DUX—Five Lessons Learned

Coloring Outside the Lines

Modeling the Creative Organization

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The Tool Makes the (Wo)man

AIGA Experience Design Summit #5 - Recap

AIGA Experience Design - past, present and future: An interview with Terry Swack and Clement Mok

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Foreseeing the future: The legacy of Vannevar Bush

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