Fails at Basic Usability - Passes

Linda Bustos

December 10th, 2007

Amazon is often touted as the usability darling of e-commerce. Number one on Internet Retailer's Top 500 List last year, the mega-store is usually way ahead of other retailers in so many ways. That's why my experience on Amazon this weekend was so surprising. Shopping on, I experienced search failure more than once -- and also discovered that my problems wouldn't have happened on

Exhibit A - Can't Handle A Typo

This is what happened when I made a spelling error for "Web Analytics: An Hour A Day" on

And this is the same search on

Exhibit B - Can't Handle Stemmings

For a site that's so eager to make recommendations, I was surprised that I got a "zero results" page when searching for a book about "landing pages":

"Oh, did you mean landing page? So sorry, why didn't you say so in the first place?" figured it out, and delivered more than one result:

Exhibit C - Design

You'll notice from the screenshots that is still using the tombstone navigation that was abandoned by the redesign a couple months ago. Fair enough, it may not be as simple as flicking a switch for and to get the fresh look and Amazon decided to roll the new design out in stages. But the new layout was designed for better usability and sales - so I'm wondering what's the hold up. Certainly Amazon should be concerned with providing the optimal holiday shopping experience?

The Canadian site is also missing an important holiday usability reminder - shipping deadlines: lets you know right up front how many days you have to cash in on super saver shipping.

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Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.