Do you know what the annual revenue of Amazon is?
It’s 280 billion USD! This revenue exceeds the GDP of Kuwait ($111 billion). If we consider Amazon as an independent nation, it will rank as the world’s 86th biggest country.
Surely, it’s an extremely profitable organization and the third most valuable corporation on the planet after Apple and Microsoft. CEO Jeff Bezos is continuing to invest heavily in artificial intelligence, the smart home, and physical retail as well.
To be honest, I am a loyal customer and die-hard fan of Amazon, and I am pretty sure that you must be as well because 44% of all online sales happen on Amazon only.
In short, it’s the first choice for everyone to buy anything online, and Amazon is undoubtedly the most significant force in the digital transformation of commerce.
Then why the heck its design is so bad?
Don’t they have enough funds to improve the user interface of their website? Well, looking at its economic scale, it’s definitely not an intelligent guess.
- Then, what’s the core reason behind this neglect?
- Why is it so outdated?
- The cluttered pages, lousy UI for specialized product categories, and lack of integration with its international sites.
- Is a successful design not necessarily beautiful?
It seems like Amazon has defied design thinking laws, and they are pretty successful till now. The tech giant’s success brings a relief principle that is sometimes hard to swallow in the design community.
If you read about Amazon’s famous leadership principles, they don’t even explicitly talk about design!
I tried to figure out the design theory behind Amazon’s billion-dollar success.
I soon realized that in this digital era, where interaction design has become one of the prominent and must have departments in every company, we had confused ourselves between the ‘beautification’ and ‘easiness’ of digital products.
Amazon’s visual design might not be streamlined, minimal, or engage people on an emotional level, but it is handy. Its functionality and corresponding aesthetic are tailored expressly to support the core attributes of an efficient shopping experience.
From an aesthetic point of view, Amazon’s web store is neither simple nor beautiful — two things that we expect from a good design. Instead, it focuses on the simplicity of experience, process, and functionality.
For many designers, the idea that an experience with Amazon’s visual complexity succeeds is somewhat confounding.
On the flip side :
Everything you see on Amazon, every pixel, pretty or ugly, is rigorously tested to the most minute tactical level. For a change to happen, it generally needs to prove its merit via positive metrics. If their conversion funnel is driving profit, they care less about the aesthetics aspects. And that’s what any tech giant like Amazon would be wary of before taking a stab at their UI/UX.
To the “modern” eyeballs looks crappy after experiencing immersive themes from other websites, Amazon, more than likely any other e-commerce platform or website, studies and analyzes troves of data from users to make even the slightest decisions on their interface and design.
I can confidently conclude that the business and design teams of Amazon play way smarter than its competitors and very meticulously calculate the outcomes of their decisions.
If Facebook had a team that spent months working on the design of the “Like” button, Amazon must have spent thrice as much on that “single-click buy button.”
Amazon’s website architecture is quite exhaustively scalable to the point that it can allow anyone to sell anything to anyone in any part of the world. This cut both ways.
How might a designer look at Amazon to understand why it works, despite not being as aesthetic as per people’s expectations?
My answer would be that its design succeeds because it uses four key principles that all great shopping experiences embody, whether digital or physical, luxury, or low-cost. At their heart, all great shopping experiences are transparent, tangible, trustworthy, and helpful, and Amazon is hitting the bullseye on every one of those.
Paradoxically, Amazon’s design works well for Amazon itself. They can tap the right target audience at the right time as their online stores contribute to over 50% of their annual revenue. Even if Amazon’s design sucks, they are not following the design trends blindly and have created “customer experience” as their USP (unique selling proposition).