Amazon.com is the most horribly designed shopping experience on the web. There, I said it. I don’t know why this isn’t talked about more. Am I the only one who thinks this way?
What’s wrong with it? Let’s see: it’s cluttered with text links, pricing is confusing, search results are horribly impossible to sort through and are displayed in a way that’s a waste of browser real estate, the fluid width design looks horrible on any monitor built in the last 10 years, product pages are messy, confusing and often inaccurate, and adding something to the cart is a drawn out and inconsistent process (unless of course you click 1-Click ordering which is scary and not convenient if you often switch credit cards between purchases.) Don’t even get me started with the “Buy with PayPhrase” option; what is that even about?
Let me give you an example shopping experience.
I wanted to buy 50 SD memory cards for a project I’m doing at work. I type in “SD cards” into the search box and 1900 results instantly come up, yet only 3 are visible from the top of the page. All that real estate on the page and you show me 3 products before I have to scroll? As Sean Parker would say, “3′s not cool. You know what’s cool? 15.”
Anyway, I know I don’t care about brand, and I really don’t even care about size. I just want the cheapest SD cards out there. So I look for an option to sort by price, but I see there isn’t one. It says I have to choose a department to enable sorting, so I click the departments drop down. But which department do I choose? Is it electronics, computers, cell phone accessories, or office products – it says each one has results for sd cards? In fact, it says there are 7 results in the “Shoes” department. Why can’t I just have it display all sd cards sorted by price so I know I’m getting the cheapest one?
I choose Electronics because it says it has the most results. Then I choose “Price:Low to High” under the sorting options that appear. But now I’m being shown a page of SD Card adapters, key chains and plastic card holders. I have to scroll to page 4 before I’m actually presented with real SD cards, and looking at the sorting options there is no option to filter out all the accessories and just display cards. Also, why do I have to click tiny little numbers at the bottom of the page to scroll through the options? Implementing something like Google’s Infinity Scrolling would be fantastic.
So now I have a page of SD cards, supposedly displaying by lowest to highest price. So why is it that the options are displayed $6.67, then $5.83, then $1.79, then $4.99, then $8.99, etc.? There doesn’t seem to be any order to the pricing at all; it’s certainly not displaying the lowest priced ones first. So whatever, I find a cheap one and click on it to look at it more before purchasing.
That brings us to the product page… a page so long and so full of crap it takes 10 seconds to scroll all the way through it. Let’s start with the product photos… the first photo is a close-up shot of the SD card. It looks legit; a SanDisk 1.0GB SD Card just like the product description says. So I click onto the next photo, but wait… the next photo is of a Toshiba 1.0GB SD card. WTF? When I click Add to Cart which one is going to show up in my mailbox?
The rest of the product page is just a mess, and equally unsatisfying and untrustworthy. Before you get to anything that tells you about the product you have to sort through tons of recommendations for other products, special offers and “customers who bought this also bought…” crap. All of which is fine, but put it in a sidebar on the right so it doesn’t distract me from learning about the product I clicked on.
It’s just frustrating. I have no idea if the SD cards I bought are the best value available on the site, and I’m not even sure what they are going to look like when they arrive or if all 50 will even be the same brand.
Who does online shopping right? Target.com
Annoying banners and Google ads aside, the shopping experience at Target.com is pleasant. Lots of products are displayed to you at once, you can single click an item for a Quick View that lets you see detail about the item without leaving the page. Pricing is clearly marked, photos are big and clear and product descriptions are front and center. You can easily dig deeper for product reviews, suggestions and more info. Even checking out is an easy process that only takes a couple of steps. Another awesome shopping site is Gap and its family sites.
Why Amazon will never change.
What’s keeping them from changing their 90′s era design? In my opinion it’s probably two things:
- No competition. If you need to buy something online, anything, you go to Amazon and they will usually have plenty of options and the best prices. Nobody does online shopping like Amazon, not even Buy.com or Overstock. And even complainers like me aren’t going to go somewhere else.
- They honestly think their website is good. And they’ve got the sales to prove it. Plus, nobody ever talks about how crappy it is. Here in Seattle its sacrilegious to speak out against Amazon. Its like ordering Pepsi in Atlanta.
Why I still love them.
Amazon is still the best option for online shopping. Their review system is great, and people really use it so you can trust the ratings. They also have top notch customer service, whether you call in or e-mail. Their return policy is also fair and easy, making shopping a trustworthy experience with them. If you order often enough, Prime is the best deal in town for shipping (and now includes free instant videos which I hope will find their way onto my Tivo soon). All in all, its still the best place to shop and my first pick whether I’m looking for groceries, electronics, books, home decor, gifts or practically anything else. Furthermore, Amazon has a lot of brilliant people working there (I know some of them personally), and they have a lot of brilliant products (Kindle, Amazon Fresh, Prime, Cloud Storage, great mobile apps, a great Affiliate program, etc.). But that’s no excuse, they really need to invest in a complete overhaul of their website before I’ll stop complaining.
What do you think? Are you brave enough to share what you really think about the buying experience on Amazon.com?