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Thursday, Apr. 3, 2008

Big Impact, Small Changes on Amazon

By Daniel McGuigan
April 3rd, 2008

image of Amazon boxYou probably didn’t notice, but Amazon just made it easier to quickly glance at the product you want and get all the information you need in order to buy.

All it took was few simple changes to the text on their product pages. By adjusting the size, color and font of the text and removing unnecessary words, they’ve cleaned up the product pages and made them easier to scan and skim.

Here’s what’s new:

Font & Word Choice — Larger, color headline. Selective bolding. Price is larger. Less verbiage.

Up-sell Area — Now shows product image. Cleaner headline matches product page headline.


Amazon marketing optimization - Before

This is how Amazon’s product descriptions used to look. As you can see, there’s not much differentiation in the text. Although there’s a lot of important stuff to read, it’s all in bold — which basically makes bolding meaningless (think “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”).


Amazon marketing optimization - After

Product Name, Price and Availability are things that all visitors want to see when they’re on a product page. With these changes, Amazon has further highlighted what’s essential — as they did by changing the size and color of the headlines — or cut the fat — as they did by editing out unnecessary words and turning bold into light gray. After all, should we be looking at the word “Price” or at the actual price?


So, how does Amazon know which changes will make their website more easy to use and therefore convert better? It’s not because they’re any smarter than you or your CMO (although we’re sure Amazon has some very smart people). It’s because they’ve built “a culture of website optimization.”

If you want to test strategically (like Amazon), we can help.

Add Your Comments

Comments (17)

  1. Enjoy seeing the two different comparisons. Funny how a small change or two can completely impact a site and their marketing/sales efforts.

  2. I noticed this yesterday, got big points with the boss for pointing it out before Grok!

  3. James,

    Bryan noticed this four days ago and emailed Dan and me. But since we put up the post today, I guess you two will have to arm wrestle for usability geek bragging rights at some point. ;)

    Regardless, it’s not really a fair contest for us mortals. (The optimization thing, that is, not arm wrestling — you may have a shot at that.) Sometimes it seems Bryan has every e-commerce site on the Web cached somewhere in his brain. He tends to notice things before Google. It’s scary.

    Glad to see you’re paying attention! Just goes to show that it might pay to read GrokDotCom.


  4. Well, Bryan did not tell my boss first and that’s what counts ;-) I will put Amazon on my daily list so next time I can beat Bryan to the punch.

    I was honestly afraid they made the changes weeks ago and I just didn’t notice. I was glad to see that I picked up it quickly and kudos to Bryan and the rest of the team for noticing even “small” changes such as these.

  5. This is a great example of how font size and visual contrast can make a difference. However, I don’t think they’ve “edited out unnecessary words” in the book title, at least not in this example. It simply looks like a different book.

  6. Hi,

    Great analyse, we are actualy focusing on those little changes on our websites. It’s encouraging to see that this kind of approach can bring a lot and gives us more confidence to go forward.

  7. David-Sorry, I could have made it clearer, but I was referring to the “Availability”, which Amazon has taken out in the second description.

    Mark- Thanks. Making small changes can be really useful in redesigning, especially if you’re testing those changes.

  8. [...] Daniel McGuigan spotted design tweaks on Amazon product pages that improve scannability – a very important element in web [...]

  9. Daniel, thanks for sharing. For small sites like ours, this kind of information really helps us improve things and test them.

  10. I hope we haven’t overlooked other changes! I continue to be impressed by Amazon’s culture of optimization (as you wisely called it) and I regularly look to Amazon for more great examples of an innovative and effective persuasive user experience in my consulting.

  11. I believe you that they have a culture of optimization, but to be honest those changes were kind of no-brainers if you ask me. No brainers that I assume were tested and verified, but no brainers none the less.

  12. Oddly, as of today (two weeks later), I’m not seeing the changes anywhere on Amazon (even on “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”). I’m still seeing the before picture. I wonder if they are still split testing or if they rolled back to the previous version.

  13. They were split testing. This is now part of their site. Glad I found this blog it contains very useful resources.

  14. [...] Your online copy must be formatted to make it easy to digest online. You want to maximize skimming and scanning just the way Amazon reformatted their page. [...]

  15. [...] Scannable ContentYour online copy should be formatted so its easy to digest online. Even big companies get it wrong. See Amazon’s userbility changes. [...]

  16. on the Web if you ask me. No brainers that of information really helps us has every e-commerce site improve things and test I assume were somewhere tested and cached

  17. One great tool internet marketeers have is split testing.

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