Amazon in 2005 or 2011? Out With The Old Clutter, In With The New

Long, long ago in 2005, Jakob Nielsen wrote a short article titled, “Amazon: No Longer the Role Model for E-Commerce Design.” Amazon’s product pages, he said, were “littered with extraneous features, ranging from a ‘Gold Box’ over a ‘wish list spree’ to promotions for reading glasses and other irrelevant products.”

On July 25, 2005, when Nielsen wrote those words, Amazon’s product pages were cluttered. Take a look, via the Wayback Machine at the product page for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

That was then. This is now:

The pages are different. But not less cluttered. Just re-cluttered. Some design choices have helped, some have hurt. It’s almost a toss-up: would I rather be back in 2005 or shopping now in 2011?

It doesn’t have to be a time-machine choice, however. We’ve been developing A Cleaner Amazon both as an addition to our A Cleaner YouTube extension (available for Chrome and Safari and Firefox [download]) and as a separate extension for Chrome. Here’s where we stand now, cluttered on the left and less cluttered on the right:

But we can do better, we can do cleaner.

Now, we don’t want to be misunderstood–we like Amazon, we use it. A lot. Like almost everyone else, we turn to it for not just buying books and Legos but also for product information and, most important of all perhaps, product reviews.

We think, though, that the experience could be less cluttered. And here’s a sneak peak of what we mean when we say “less cluttered,” a sneak peak that’s obscured to heighten the anticipation and tension:

That’s all for the moment. We’ll post more updates here soon.

2 thoughts on “Amazon in 2005 or 2011? Out With The Old Clutter, In With The New

  1. The only thing I can say about the de cluttered version is I really hate site with a miles worth of empty dead static header space. Logo/home link short menu search box, next line, if there are errors/flash messages the belong here in a distinct font. Red for errors. Then on into the content. Why waste 300px of vertical space.

    • That vertical space is something we’re not too happy with either. The extensions current incarnation is unable to handle all the redesign dreams we have.

      You mention errors/flash messages. We haven’t seen too many of those. When are these cropping up?

      And thanks for the feedback.