Skip to Main Content

Oct 2, 2007 | 3 minute read

Amazon Tabs Extinction Means Better Customer Experience

written by Linda Bustos

Amazon's new redesign launch is all the buzz this week. The site that popularized horizontal tabbed navigation has now ditched them completely.

Amazon redesign 2007

You can check out the larger image with feature tour over at Amazon. The redesign is being rolled out in phases, so you may or may not be able to see the changes just yet.

The 4 S's of Amazon Customer Experience

Why these changes? Amazon conducted extensive usability tests and concluded that people are interested in 4 things:

"We concentrated on shopping, searching, saving, and buying--the four activities that customers have repeatedly told us are the most important to them. They're now prominently featured at the top of every page on the site."

SSSB just doesn't make a good mnemonic, so I propose we refer to these factors as the 4 S's:

Shopping - Amazon's referring to the browsing experience. It's important that all your products are properly categorized, and the categories are clear, easy to find and use a logical organization. This extends to all levels of your faceted classification.

Searching - Amazon introduces an easier way to search for wishlists, but don't forget that searching for products themselves and other site information with search is very important. This includes product synonyms, misspellings and review content.

Saving - Bookmarking products in an area other than the shopping cart is important, and users should be able to find their saved items quickly and easily.

Spending - Okay I took the liberty to change "buying" into "spending" -- it's not a perfect synonym but it's the bottom-line goal. Users can browse and bookmark all they want but buying is the goal for both customer and seller. There are many design, content and usability factors that can affect conversion rates and user testing these elements is a valuable exercise.

Now as an etailer, you should also be concerned with a fifth S:

Sharing - You want to encourage buyers to submit their ratings and reviews which can turn into higher conversion rates for these product pages and even more search engine traffic.

The Evolution of Exploring Amazon

Who remembers what Amazon looked like when it launched it's bookstore in 1995? Sean Landry does:

Remember when Amazon's tabbed navigation resembled a graveyard in 2000?


It makes you think "Hello, Amazon! We have recommendations for you. Give us an easier way to find stuff!" Not only does it look messy, but this type of arrangement taxes the brain, violating #10 of Jakob Nielsen's 13 Tab Usability Guidelines.

"Multiple rows create jumping UI elements, which destroy spatial memory and thus make it impossible for users to remember which tabs they've already visited. Also, of course, multiple rows are a sure symptom of excessive complexity: If you need more tabs than will fit in a single row, you need to simplify your design." adopted this design not long ago: tabbed navigation

But still looks like this:

Amazon UK tabbed navigation

There have been a few more updates to Amazon's design over the last few years, and we can expect this won't be the last. As your own sites grow, as web design best practices change and as we learn more about how people use websites, redesigns are inevitable.

What do you think about Amazon's new 'do? Drop us a comment.