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Amazon & UX: The data beast improving experiences
By Rebecca Clarke
On Mar 25, 2020
To most people Amazon is a giant eCommerce site selling everything from Alexa speakers to garden sheds, but look beneath the surface and you’ll find that Amazon is also a very sophisticated data company tracking every aspect of their platform to provide the best user experience around. In this blog we discover how and why Amazon mines data and what we can learn from them.
Online Retailer or data miner?
Unbeknown to most people, every single interaction you make with Amazon is tracked, analysed and evaluated, allowing Amazon to fulfill their primary aim of selling you more stuff!
In 1997, Jeff Bezos said to his staff that he wanted to create “a culture of metrics”. It’s believed that quantification is one of Jeff’s biggest interests and at the core of his entire business plan. Although you could argue the algorithm Amazon uses isn’t any better than any other data collecting algorithms, it all boils down to the fact that Jeff knew the value of data and turning every click on Amazon into a commodity was a revolutionary way of thinking in the 1990s.
How does Amazon know you so well?
The team at Amazon focuses on the ‘clickstreams’ of its users. ‘Clickstreams’ are a digital breadcrumb which allows Amazon to follow user behaviours - the website’s they came from, what pages they travel through and what the user will do next. The data collected while recording each individual clickstream then allows Amazon to change each individual’s user experience by offering personalisation and target recommendations with a different front page and tailored marketing.
Over the years the data collected by Amazon has enabled them to create an incredible user experience. The website is one of the easiest in the world to navigate and search for a specific product, it automatically recommends complementary products from the items you’ve viewed and the payment system is totally seamless, regardless of the device you are accessing the platform from.
What makes a website user-friendly?
Unlike Amazon, many businesses make the mistake of putting usability and user experience at the bottom of their list priorities when building a new website, when in reality, it is the most important factor for online success. Not only should your website look good, but it has to work well too.
If Amazon has taught us anything it’s that brilliant usability will set you apart from your competitors, help increase user engagement on your site and ultimately increase leads.
Here are our top 5 Amazon-endorsed strategies to improve users’ experience on your website:
1. Go mobile
Your website should be designed and built from a mobile-first perspective as people are more than likely searching and finding your website via their mobile phone. Thus your website needs to be as easy to use on a smartphone as it is on a computer screen.
To find out if it is, your first port of call should be to try it out for yourself. Look at your website on your mobile and find where it could be improved, for example, have you found that there are buttons too close together or the text is too small to read comfortably? These are quick fixes that could boost your user experience.
2. Speed it up
There is nothing more frustrating than a slow website. It’s a well-regarded fact that this is the main reason why potential customers leave a website. You must make sure your website doesn’t take longer than 6 seconds to load for optimum usability. This will also help improve where your website sits in Google’s search rankings.
Often your biggest files, and the ones that cause the most issues, are third-party plugins and widgets, so ensure you use the necessary ones.
3. Get organised
The way in which information is organised and presented is very important, - though this is often the most neglected aspect of a website. Not only does this help users find the information they’re looking for quickly, but thanks to Google’s BERT update, which focuses on the intent of website content, it will also help improve your Google search rankings.
Ensure you plan out your website’s categories carefully and present information that keeps it easy for users to find. Anything you do on your website should have your prospective users in mind. It’s very easy for websites to grow organically over time and get untidy, so be sure to audit your content regularly.
4. Forward thinking forms
Forms are a very important element on your website. They open up an avenue for users to interact with your website, as well as generating leads for your business.
This one may seem obvious, but ensure that your forms are easy to fill in and aren’t too long. Users tend to get fed up with filling out too many fields, it simply takes too long and users often get bored.
Here are some other tips for forms:
- Have an easy and pleasant design
- Use labels for each field
- Alert the user when the form has been successful
5. Can you fix it? Yes you can!
It’s good practice to fix any errors on your website, for example, if your website links to a page that is no longer on your website, replace the link to a webpage that does exist. Additionally, creating custom 404 pages improves user experience and overall usability.
A good practice is to set up redirections from deleted content to another, however, this needs to be kept to a minimum to ensure that navigation doesn’t get complicated and confusing.
Other effective practices to consider:
- Have a functional search feature
- Offer a range of different types of content e.g. Top 10, Tips and Tricks and so on
- Ensure your header and footer is informative
- Good internal linking to allow users to jump between pages
Website usability plays a vital role in the success of your business’ website. Ensuring good usability helps to provide a seamless experience for your visitors and improves your conversion rates. You don’t need a fancy algorithm to help your users, however, you just need to measure your successes vs your losses.
If you need help with your website’s development or design, get in touch to discuss your project further.