Amazon UX Teardown

Hey there! Back at it again with the UX teardown, this time of the illustrious


If you haven’t seen my previous two posts, teardowns of AirBnB and Twitter, respectively, feel free to check them out.

As always, this teardown is for a project for Viking Code School, for one of the first assignments in the Web Design unit.

The questions I’m answering (in purple) have been provided by Viking Code School.

Who is the key user? This isn’t always clear, especially in marketplace sites, so take your best guess.

The key user, I imagine, is someone who is searching for a particular product or someone who is looking to browse.

What is that user’s number one critical goal when using the site? Be as specific as possible if there are multiple options here, e.g. “to purchase a red wagon” instead of “buy a toy”.

This person, no matter whether they know what they’re looking for or not, want to find a suitable product quickly, in as few steps as possible. 

What is likely to make that user’s experience particularly positive (i.e. provide good satisfaction)?

Something that would make this user’s experience particularly positive is if they found something right away, perhaps on the homepage, that catches their eye or suits their needs (or both). If they already know what they’re looking for, something that would create a good experience is the search function being very easy to use and able to direct them to what they’re looking for quickly. 

What is the approximate information architecture of the site? (sketch it out)

Amazon UX

What is the flow through that architecture for the user who is accomplishing the critical goal you identified above?

They start on the homepage. Depending on whether or not they are signed in, they will either have a list of trending/popular products (for people who aren’t signed in) or products recommended for them based on what they’ve already bought, looked at and favorited. They can, by a stroke of luck (or if they’re just browsing) find what they’re looking for on the homepage, in which case they view the product screen, click “Add to cart,” and then click the shopping cart to check out if they’re done shopping. If they’re signed in and have their settings configured, they may be all done – their billing and shipping information could already be inputted. If not, they will have to fill out billing and shipping forms before the sale is complete.

Other ways a user can reach the product they’re looking for that are between the homepage and the checkout screen – they can use the search function, choosing whether or not to search within categories of products or all of Amazon using the drop-down search menu. The search will generate a list of products that may or may not match what they’re looking for, depending on how accurate the search was. They can also view products by department, and narrow down by category until they are reaching the specific product they’re looking for. These processes repeat until a product is picked, when it goes into the shopping cart and the process begins again. 

What style(s) of navigation is/are used? Do they answer the key questions (Where am I and how did I get here? Where should I go next and how do I get there?)?

The styles of navigation include drop down menus, a search bar, and eventually scrolling through the lists of products. A lot of big, friendly looking buttons are used so you’re never lost and it always looks and feels very simple to buy products. There is also a menu at the top that shows you your current path: For example, “Books” –> “Fantasy and Sci-Fi” –> “Books by Philip K. Dick” –> “Philip K. Dick Anthology”. This can be very useful if you’re clicking around and forgot how to get somewhere. Also, all of those markers are clickable, so you can skip steps back instead of clicking the “back” button five or six times. 

What key interactions does the user have? Are they clear and usable?

Some of the key interactions of the users include the search bar, viewing products, and purchasing them. All of these interactions are very easy to use and encourage moving farther in the process by giving clear next steps and labels on the buttons so you know where you’re going. 

What did the site do well to allow the user to accomplish his goal effectively, efficiently and with good satisfaction?

Something Amazon does really well is the barrage of products on the homepage. A lot of the products are aesthetically interesting, and the collections based on browsing history and past purchases are a nice touch. The other feature available to people who are signed in which is really great and efficient is One-Click Ordering. This is cool because you can literally order products using your stored information in one click. That’s about as efficient as it gets as a way of parting you with your money, and getting you the products you want much more efficiently. 

What did the site do poorly when allowing the user to accomplish his goal effectively, efficiently and with good satisfaction?

There isn’t a lot the site does wrong, but I think it could be better optimized for browsing instead of catering to people who already know what they’re looking for. Showing new products, or featured products (this is now being done a little bit, but could be done in a much cleaner way) on the homepage would be really great, and I think could generate a lot of people who come to Amazon just to see what’s new there. The “New and Interesting Finds” section is great for this, but I only found it after clicking around on the site a ton. Featuring some of those products would be really great and make me go see what’s new. 

And that’s gonna do it for now! I’m done with UX teardowns for the moment, moving on to design. Look for those soon!

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