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admin | Category: Shipping Storage Containers | 27.10.2013
Designers of e-commerce websites today face a number of challenges in attempting to build a user experience that increases the likelihood of visitors making online purchases.
To battle fierce online competition and overcome the apprehension of skeptical shoppers, designers can take a number of steps to improve the usability of their online stores. In this article, we will discuss a number of features of the Amazon shopping experience that will, either in principle or practically, offer a model worthy of imitation by e-commerce developers today.
Designers, clients, project managers and developers involved in building e-commerce websites could follow this example by clearly emphasizing product search and online purchasing from the very beginning of the user’s experience—whether for first-time users or returning customers. Once they have established the website’s product search and online shopping capabilities, users will most likely want to take advantage of those features right away—starting with search. Amazon uses cookies to keep a user logged in, and that user’s shopping habits are tracked and stored server-side. This is a good enhancement, because it dynamically customizes the user’s experience based on prior searches, page views, wish-list additions, written reviews and, ultimately, purchases. As Amazon does, a good e-commerce website will track client-side behavior (on the server-side) to ensure that subsequent visits of each user are increasingly tailored to their tastes and habits. This increases the likelihood that the user will make a purchase, and in some cases it will speed up the purchasing process. More significantly, it exposes the user to a wider range of products and services that tie in to their areas of interest.
The Amazon shopping experience is littered with reminders of why the user should purchase a product from Amazon rather than from some other source (online or otherwise). This simple feature, which is instantly understood by the user because of the strike-through text, is seen with virtually every product on Amazon. So, displaying this yellow banner as soon as the user’s cart qualifies for free shipping increases the likelihood that they will follow through on their purchase.
One of the reasons a shopper may pass up an opportunity to purchase online is that they cannot assess the quality of a product. But an up-close preview of a product—one that is comparable to actually holding the item in your hands—can help remove some, if not all, of this hesitation. This can be extremely helpful because shoppers will usually be able to tell from a glance at the table of contents or introduction whether a book suits them.
Hovering over the thumbnail image on the product page opens a menu of the book’s sections. The search engine is even intuitive enough to include the plural forms of singular words, which is best practice.
E-commerce developers today may not have the budget or technical resources to include such a feature on their websites, but you can ensure during the concept phase that products are given as much exposure as possible. Another customizable feature is a history of all of the products that the shopper has viewed.
These customizable (or editable) features ensure that the shopping experience isn’t burdensome to the user.
E-commerce developers can follow this example by allowing any dynamic user-tailored content to be as customizable as possible.


Critical to the success of any online store is the ease with which users can navigate sections. Beside the logo (#2) are a few less important links, such as ones for logging out, personalized recommendations and the user’s personal Amazon page. And whenever a user views a product page, they are invited to add the product to their shopping cart or wish list (#4). Amazon does this because it knows enough to put the user’s interests first and recognizes the long-term benefits.
To increase the likelihood that a user makes a purchase, you have to ensure they are comfortable at every stage of the shopping experience. Gaining thorough knowledge of a product through customer reviews, both good and bad, gives the shopper peace of mind and helps them make an informed decision.
The user is not pressured into purchasing an item but rather feels that the decision of whether to buy a product is completely under their control.
As shown above, a few options are included on the shopping cart page that make the user feel comfortable.
But deleting is a rather final act, so they have the alternative of saving it for later, too.
The user sees this when selecting a shipping option, which likely means they are already committed—or nearly committed—to buying the product. E-commerce developers could learn from the example set by Amazon’s empathetic user experience by understanding the various concerns and apprehensions that a user might have at each stage of the shopping experience. Developers should add enhancements to the shopping experience that make the user feel comfortable and in control.
In no way could we cover all of the advantages of the Amazon shopping experience in this article.
But the few strong features we have discussed should suffice to help you understand how the architects at Amazon have shaped the online experience. And of course technical and budget limitations will keep some of the enhancements mentioned here out of reach of some e-commerce developers. Applying these principles will ensure that your online store delivers a rewarding experience to the buyer and a good bottom line to the seller.
This post was written exclusively for Webdesigner Depot by Louis Lazaris, a freelance writer and web developer. Have you found other usability benefits and e-commerce best practices in the Amazon shopping experience?
WDD staff are proud to be able to bring you this daily blog about web design and development. Join our 746,498 subscribers and get access to the latest tools, freebies, product announcements and much more! Its success is not a fluke, nor is it merely the result of being in the right place at the right time. This is a simple but strong sales incentive that has no doubt boosted Amazon’s revenue.


After the user has added some items to their shopping cart, a large distinct yellow banner appears at the top of the screen, telling the user that they now qualify for free shipping. Although I found this feature to be a little buggy, it’s still a good option to have when researching a book.
Some of those sections, as well as the shopper’s entire product viewing history, can be modified.
This option is not always easy to find but appears at the top of the user’s personal page.
This feature would be more effective if it were done with AJAX, but it is still a useful enhancement. If they receive recommendations that they aren’t happy with, the user can modify them, which will improve future visits.
This ensures that users do not feel as if content is being forced on them through advertising or promotional incentives. Basic store categories, user pages, shopping cart pages, purchase pages and the like should all be easy to access at almost any point in the shopping experience.
This navigation element is exactly where the user expects it to be: in the top-left corner of the screen, below the logo.
This section is not extremely prominent but also appears where it should be: at the top, either above or at eye level with the logo.
Shopping cart functionality is almost invariably located in the top-right corner of an e-commerce website’s layout. Users naturally look for this functionality exactly where Amazon has placed it: to the right of the product and product details. Selling products in its marketplace obviously does not increase Amazon’s revenue in the short term, but it likely reaps long-term rewards, because simply knowing that this option is available makes many shoppers choose Amazon as their primary destination—even for used goods.
Amazon sets a very good example in this regard, doing what users expect and ensuring that the most important elements are accessible at all times or as needed.
First, if a user changes their mind about a particular purchase, they have the option of deleting it from their cart.
Upon seeing the shipping methods, the user could very well need these options, so having the button available now is helpful and reassuring. That button takes them not to a confirmation of their order but rather to one final page where they actually make their purchase. But by following the underlying principles of these best practices, you will be able to implement various usability enhancements that are within your project’s budget and specifications. Because the user is about to spend their hard-earned dollars on this product and would feel more comfortable being able to easily access both positive and negative reviews.



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