COMPANY // Amazon
PRODUCT/SERVICE // Amazon.com website with Prime
Amazon has been the perennial leader in online e-commerce for decades, but competitors like Walmart and Alibaba are catching up, and now they’re now facing a new breed of competition from Shopify and Instacart that provide a distributed and personalized e-commerce experiences to thousands of small retailers. Even with this dominate position, the Amazon.com shopping experience is still one of the worst designed experiences on the Internet.
DSRUPTR REVIEW //
I’ve been an Amazon Prime member for 15+ years and have become increasingly frustrated with the shopping experience because it has gradually gotten worse over time, where it’s difficult to navigate, presents too many choices, is impossible to get help on simple tasks, and lacks any intelligence or personalization. The challenge is that design and technology have evolved extensively in the last 20 years and other competitors are providing better web experiences that actually meet my needs while solving the main problems that I have with Amazon.
To create a more objective approach to this redesign project, I utilized a Human-Centered Design approach because it optimizes the usability and value of a digital product by focusing on the users’ goals and needs, and by applying human factors, and usability knowledge & techniques. And this approach perfectly aligns to Amazon’s vision of being the “Earth’s most customer-centric company” by making the customers first – and engaging with them directly – throughout the process.
More specifically, I utilized the Double Diamond design process because it’s structured, incremental, and thoughtful, where it helps people/teams to understand – rather than simply assume – what the problem is, and then to take time to build off of what you learn about how these problems impact the customers (or end users). And, this process is easily understood for designers and non-designers alike.
I start my design strategy by researching the Amazon company website to get a better understanding of their vision, goals, and culture.
Amazon’s corporate vision statement:
“We want to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Amazon’s main 3 business goals that this design strategy will support:
- Increase loyalty with casual shoppers
- Provide the best products at the lowest prices
- Make it easier and faster for customers to find and buy any product online
To better frame Amazon’s vision and goals, I created the value proposition for their Amazon.com site and Prime service.
Amazon.com value proposition:
Amazon Prime is a service where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy or experience online at Amazon.com – with a focus on low prices, large selection, and convenience.
Typically I utilize a lot of user research methods, but for the sake of time I’m going to utilize my own experience – and those of my friends & family – to define the problems and challenges with Amazon.com Prime experience.
The Amazon.com website – via Prime service – is something I use frequently to not only purchase household items, electronics, and food, but also to watch videos and listen to music. Over the years I have learned to use Amazon.com for a variety of uses, however, there’s a large confluence of problems on the site that hinder my experience:
- Overwhelmed by the massive amount of choices in search results and landing pages
- Difficult to browse the site because many of the links aren’t relevant or useful
- Dark patterns (e.g. fake reviews, fake ratings, etc.) can inadvertently force users into purchasing items that they don’t want/need
- Lack of insight around monthly/yearly purchase totals that help manage budget/savings
- Little help or support in completing basic tasks and goals
- Site aesthetic is outdated and unappealing compared to competitor sites
These challenges have led to a growing number of unmet customer needs:
- Find higher quality items faster so they don’t go to competitor sites
- View fewer – higher quality – choices when searching for products in order to make browsing faster and purchase decisions easier
- Utilize insight from family & friends in order to inform better purchasing decisions
- Notified about product updates & availability, orders & purchases, pickup availability, and friend recommendations because these will help make better real-time decisions
- Shop in a more personalized experience that mimics their persona
Bottom line: the Amazon.com site and Prime service are waaaay past their prime (pun intended)… like the fanny pack and Mom jeans. I suppose when you’re making $386 billion a year, you tend to want to do nothing to ensure you don’t break your cash cow.
Defining Our Personas
Next, I created a few personas that list out specific customer motivations, needs, tasks, tools, and frustrations with their current Amazon.com shopping experiences. And then I prioritize them for this exercise (primary, secondary, tertiary).
In reviewing all of my research about myself and friends & family, these were the main opportunity areas I wanted to explore further that will help to potentially alleviate the problems and challenges of our primary persona, Ryan Researcher.
In addition to the opportunity areas, I also added “How might we..” phrases to each opportunity to help frame the design challenges. This helps to keep the design solutions focused on solving the specific problem we first outlined while preventing individuals from suggesting their random pet solutions.
Priority #1: Update the UI design
The visual design of Amazon.com needs to be updated to a modern aesthetic that enhances the Amazon brand while optimizing the user experience.
How might we improve the visual design of Amazon.com to enhance the user experience?
Priority #2: Simplify the header and navigation
The headers & navigation are overly complex and dense, where users mostly need access to the primary sections, product categories, and main utilities (search, cart, etc.).
How might we simplify the header and navigation to enhance the navigation, improve discoverability, and streamline browsing?
Priority #3: Less is more
Most users are overwhelmed by choice on Amazon.com – simply reducing the amount of options actually makes it easier for users to accomplish a task or goal, like finding the right product and purchase.
This is evident throughout the site, but especially on the homepage and search results page – both extremely popular and critical pages that can impact the overall user experience. Simply by streamlining the page and presenting less options and information will result in increased usability and engagement.
How might we streamline the amount of choices on Amazon.com to amplify the ability of users to find the right product that meets their needs?
Priority #4: Social recommendations
A recent study found that 74% of consumers rely on social networks to help with their purchasing decisions. In order to leverage this insight on Amazon.com, let’s allow users to connect with friends & family on the site and interact via messaging and viewing each other’s purchases.
How might we enable social recommendations on Amazon.com to increase conversion during the purchasing process?
Priority #5: Personalization
While Amazon.com does have some personalization, it’s a fairly basic experience. Let’s reimagine the personalized experience that users actually want, from the recommendations to the data visualizations to the way the site looks and feels.
How might we personalize the shopping experience on Amazon.com so that the experience feels customized for each shopper?
Priority #6: Enhance Support with AI
We all need help online, but it’s difficult to find where to go for help on Amazon.com.
Creating a helpful chatbot – via AI with Alexa – will go a long way to help direct users in the right direction, or even help them accomplish a task or goal directly.
How might we create an amazing support experience utilizing AI so that shoppers can quickly get help with various activities on Amazon.com?
Priority #7: Notifications
We should explore adding notifications to the site experience in order to provide users with greater insight on product updates, orders & purchases, pickup availability, and friend recommendations.
How might we add notifications so that shoppers can get alerts about the updates of various activities on Amazon.com?
PART 1 RECAP //
Thanks for joining me for Part 1 where I provided an overview of Design the right thing from the Double Diamond approach for redesigning the Amazon.com web experience.
I kicked things off by defining an initial problem statement and initiated the research discovery phase that enabled us to get acquainted with Amazon.com customers (like me) as thoroughly as possible. This is a divergent zone, where we gather as much data as possible, and embrace the complexity of the problem. Listening to the user’s insights and stories and documenting the data becomes the key activity.
Once we have gathered all this valuable research, we defined our data in the convergent zone, where we use many tools to aggregate and validate research data. Themes, patterns, and trends emerge through affinity mapping and persona definition, which can lead to a necessary revised problem statement. Such revision of the initial problem statement is extremely important, as it sets us up for the phase 2 design stretch.
In Part 2, I’ll continue discussing and exploring the design phase of reimagining the Amazon.com web experience utilizing Prime.