Reading this question about the best e-commerce check out flow, I wondered, "What Would Amazon Do?" For instance regarding the check-out process, most people agree that you'd prefer an inline tip about adding an element to your cart to being redirected to a separate page. Yet Amazon does the latter, and surely they do that with good reason, being the largest e-commerce site on the Internet.

I wondered this, and then wondered the following: where can I find more information about how Amazon makes UI decisions? Are there any books? Blogs? Whitepapers? I've seen things here and there over the years, but there's not really any go-to resource (which suggests a market niche that needs filling, btw).

3 Answers 3


Don't Make Me Think is a must read book for usability. It talks a lot about Amazon and the design decisions they've made. Might be a little out of date now, since it covers the old Amazon.com design, but a lot of what they did still applies today.


  • Unfortunately, I have to agree with you - this appears to be the best resource out there. Too bad I read it back in 2003. 7 years and no new Amazon lessons? Bah!
    – Rahul
    Aug 30, 2010 at 19:56


Just don't forget Myth #20: If it works for Amazon, it will work for you


  • Still, it's not a bad idea to study what worked for Amazon and why. Aug 30, 2010 at 18:35
  • Indeed. I asked the question more in search of reading material than solutions. The page I linked to (webpagesthatsuck.com) is also quite old. @Patrick Exactly :)
    – Rahul
    Aug 30, 2010 at 19:55

Pretty much everything you read out there about Amazon UI is guesswork. I say: look at what they do, it might challenge your assumptions (in this case: "you'd prefer an inline tip about adding an element to your cart to being redirected to a separate page"). Then implement what seems best and test. But definitely look at what they do, it'd be silly not to. Don't pay too much attention to the interpretations of others about their UI out there, as I said, it's all guesswork.

  • That's why I'm looking for information from the source, not punditry. :)
    – Rahul
    Aug 31, 2010 at 13:18
  • @Rahul - that's his point, there is no information from the source, unless you work for Amazon. Companies typically do not share that sort of information with the public under any situation, and Amazon is even more likely to be secretive, due to their size. Aug 31, 2010 at 13:23
  • "Companies typically do not share that sort of information with the public under any situation" Oh? Google "desirabilty toolkit". Also, the larger a company is, the harder it is for them to keep secrets even if they want to.
    – user77
    Aug 31, 2010 at 14:39
  • @Charles - sure, but you're both merely validating why I asked this question. The question is "where can I find this information?". If one of the answers is "there is no such information", then that's as valid an answer as any. :) What user1173 is saying though is that you shouldn't just take what you hear about Amazon at face value. That's a fine point, but not an answer to the question.
    – Rahul
    Aug 31, 2010 at 14:51
  • @mickeyf - did you completely miss the word typically in my statement? Apparently so. If you think it is so hard for large companies to keep secrets, why don't you show me that copy of the Google search algorithm or that copy of the formula for Coke that you have? Or Microsoft's and Apple's usability test results (if you want something more on topic). You might be able to get a few basic tidbits, but no way are you going to get that info. Aug 31, 2010 at 16:05

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