A Quick Thought About Amazon

This isn’t about the morality of using Amazon, or monopolies, or wages, or anything like that. It is about the experience of using Amazon. By some measures, Amazon is the most successful business on the planet, maybe in history. It’s kind of hard to believe. When it comes to actually using their site, there’s a lot to be desired.

The basic design isn’t very good. It’s cluttered and there’s an awful lot of scrolling involved in finding the information that’s useful. The pictures are OK at best. I find it tiring to look at their site for any length of time.

Their search capabilities are pretty awful. Every search results in a ton of junk. I’ll grant that that may be on purpose, to try to trick people into impulse buys, but half the time the junk isn’t even related to what you’re looking for. And god forbid you try to find something without knowing the exact name. The search function is completely unforgiving.

The recommendations are just bizarre. The closest it ever comes to recommending something I’d like is when I buy a vinyl album and it recommends the CD. Except why would I want the CD if I bought it on vinyl? It does the same thing with hardcover and softcover books. It is constantly recommending things that I looked up and decided not to buy for some reason. The whole point of a recommendation is to suggest something that you’d like that you wouldn’t have thought of. In all the years I’ve been on the site, it hasn’t made a single successful recommendation.

And Amazon Prime Video has the clunkiest interface I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing smooth or intuitive about it. It’s search is even worse than the main site’s. When watching TV shows it doesn’t cue up the next episode. Honestly, it’s not even worth the hassle to watch something.

It’s hard to believe such a wildly successful company can’t improve their basic features. The site really hasn’t changed that much in the last decade. It must just be where they decide to pinch their pennies. It must be nice being a monopoly.

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