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As bloggers and news agencies are starting to realize, Amazon.com is currently testing a navigation redesign. Just head on over to Amazon to check it out. If you see the older tabbed design, clear your Amazon cookies and go back to the site repeatedly until you see the new design. Either way, I believe the explanatory page for the redesign should work whether or not you’re in the test. Let me know if you have any issue checking it out.

Amazon Nav Redesign

How the media and bloggers are covering the changes is below:

[Last Updated: 2:00PM PST: October 31st, 2007]

News Coverage

Neutral

  • The Seattle Times (Brier Dudley’s Blog): “The megasite is changing its look and feel, adding more polish and toning down the bargain warehouse feel.”
  • AuctionBytes.com: “Amazon.com is testing a redesign of its home page. The company said the site has grown to include over 40 “departments” since its launch in 1995 as a book-selling site, and it wants to make it easier for customers to find items in all departments.”

Blog Coverage

Positive:

  • ***Read / WriteWeb: “The most noticeable difference about Amazon’s navigation is the consolidation of the category tree. Gone is the “See All Product Categories” hover menu, as is the overwhelming left hand side bar “Browse” menu that displayed all of Amazon’s categories (41 at my last count — though it could be more). In their place is a new “Show All Departments” menu that opens along the left side of the page and displays Amazon’s category tree broken into 11 top-level departments.”
  • The Bee Hive: “So far, I think it’s pretty slick. They have an amazing complex information architecture and they managed to simplify it about as well as I can imagine doing.”
  • m@ fredenblog: “Amazon.com just redesigned their site. I like that they got rid of the clutter. I also like that “web 2.0″ design is becoming more sophisticated and less Candy Land.”
  • Northwest Progressive Institute: “My verdict: the site is definitely more usable, has a better color scheme, and improved navigation. You may or may not be able to see it in your browser if you head over there – Amazon says the new look is being selectively rolled out.”
  • Andrew Wirtanen: “The new design is like a breath of fresh air, and hopefully it will prove useful and usable.”
  • frivolous motion: “It looks nice. Just one more way they have of convincing me to give them money.”
  • Orange Days:”While I don’t think the website looks great as in flashy or jaw-droppingly good, big companies that actually want to sell stuff rarely have that. I think it does a better job of presenting itself than before and is an overall improvement.”
  • My Thoughts on Nothing Much at All: “I like the new pages a great deal. There seems to be more room in the middle to the pages for content. I find the navigation links on the top and side much less intrusive than they were previously. I really, really like the new look!”
  • ***Inside the Mind of a Nerd: “I was at first very stubborn about the new design, but it didn’t take me long at all to embrace it whenever I went back to the current Amazon site. It makes a lot of things better and easier.”
  • Adventures in digital marketing: “It seems like a definite improvement to me. There is a nice feature where the logo turns into a button with a Home link when you rollover it.”
  • Josue’s Blog: “Jay Fienberg points out a nice improvement on the amazon.com logo home page link — a simple idea that anyone can implement on their own website.”
  • Flatline Web Design:”Wow… Amazon.com has been doing some redesigning. And while I’m a little bugged that they’re still using tables for layout, I do like the changes.”
  • David Beach’s Blog: “I like the prominent search bar and the larg [sic] buttons for lists and your cart. I also like the personalization placement. This is a good step, no matter how boring it looks.”
  • Boy Meets Blog: “Amazon.com launched a new version this weekend, kudos to them. They’ve dumped the tabs, and I think it’s working for them. They’ve obviously done a fair amount of usability testing and it shows. Personally, I never knew they carried magazines before.”
  • Stefan Hayden: “It took me a second to get over the shock but the new Amazon redesign is really awesome. It really feel like they hidden a lot of interface away and really let users discover features as they need them. hiding interface elements can be one of the hardest things to convince some one to do but it always seems to pay off. I’m glad to see Amazon agrees.”
  • The Bee Hive: [has also posted a followup]“So far, I think it’s pretty slick. They have an amazing complex information architecture and they managed to simplify it about as well as I can imagine doing. The horizontal features scale up and down pretty well. My only complaint is with the drop-down navigation that relies on hovering over an arrow instead of hovering over the whole nav item — it’s unnecessarily taxing to mouse over such a small target.”
  • shahine.com/omar: “I like the new look. I love that the search results now indicate what is eligible for Amazon Prime.”
  • Bernie Zimmerman:”I was pleasantly surprised today to see that they’ve finally done something about the mess they called a website [...] I haven’t had a chance to play around with it all that much, but the color scheme is more appealing and their navigation has improved dramatically. I may post more once I’ve had more experience with it, but the short of it is that they’ve finally done something good with their website.”
  • lazygeek.net:”Their remodeled site went live today and it looks a lot cleaner from all the clutter before. This is probably their first biggest re-design in the last 5 years.”
  • r3fresh:”Overall, the site design is more simplified and space is used more effectively (ie the sidebar is now something I will use).”
  • J. Tyler Helms: “I must say, seems to be an improvement. I’m very glad they rid of the chunky tabs at the top with that ridiculous rollover popup, and moved a larger logo comfortably in the top left.”
  • J.Y. Design: “It’s the end of an era. Tabs are gone, long live drop-menus!”
  • Morning Cool: “All these changes in design and functions shows that Amazon has the intent to change some of its ecommece strategies and distinguish itself from other online retailers, maybe from price and service.”
  • @Randem: “Now, you can actually get to things. I hope they’re planning on doing more work, rather than simply stopping here. This is a good start, though.”
  • Alexseo: [Translated from Spanish using Babelfish]Now Amazon is proving its new design…
  • Stylegala: “Still in the testing phase, but it functions much better than the old design.”

Negative:

  • Why, Blog, Why?: “Every web design book that I’ve come across uses the Amazon “Tabbed Interface” as an example of “what works”. It’s ubiquitous as a design element that is simple, useful and compact.”
  • CSS -Tricks: “They have gone with a really busy, really blocky design with a flyout pop-up menu for the main navigation. Seems like a questionable move to me, but we’ll see how the rest of the world reacts.”
  • Mokka Mit Schlag: “However about a week or two ago something changed, and it now seems impossible to do more than browse without accepting their nutrition-free cookies. They seem to be going through a site-wide redesign. This is a definite step backwards. Given that they were already managing sessions (without cookies) before I’m not sure if this will have a negative impact on their scalability. Nonetheless, it’s disappointing.”
  • Elliott C. Back: “There is nothing on the major blogs yet, but our friend Amazon.com has a shocking new homepage. I don’t like it much[...]“
  • JeffreyMcManus: “I’m not wild about the changes. I like the navigational tabs on top, where they used to be, instead of off to the side. To accommodate this, they made the new design much too wide (about 250 pixels wider than their previous design, I’d estimate — I had to resize my browser so I could see the whole page).”

Neutral:

  • ***Get Elastic: “As your own sites grow, as web design best practices change and as we learn more about how people use websites, redesigns are inevitable.”
  • Webmaster-Source: “Yesterday, Amazon changed their design. Oddly, though, it had been replaced with the original by this morning. Even more strangely, this isn’t the first time this has happened. About a month ago, an earlier version of this design was put online, only to be removed the next day. Are they testing a new design, but they’re not quite ready to make it permanent?”
  • seanlandry.com: “It’s interesting to note, Amazon was the site that made “tabbed navigation” so popular. With their new design they’ve changed the navigation scheme to primarily left navigation.”
  • NowInStock.net: “This might not mean much to many of you, but every time a major retailer goes through a redesign it makes for an interesting venture for myself to see if it really is an improvement on the past design or not? Did overall usability increase? I guess we shall see.”
  • Comparison Shopping Engine Strategies: “It’s no secret that Amazon is a data-intensive company and performs A/B tests all the time, so this overhaul no doubt comes with some impressive performance upticks.”
  • Search Novice: “The ultimate useful site from the popular design book Don’t Make Me Think! has made a major change to the tab-driven design that originally made the site so easy to navigate.”
  • webmeba.com: “Amazon just got redesigned and for some random reason the new design only appears in Firefox [I haven’t tested it in Opera yet]. The redesign is much sleeker, but it’s not that much of an improvement over the old one.”
  • ***rkgblog: “Yep, the site that made tabs a ubiquitous e-commerce navigation convention is at least considering making them go away.”
  • Frostfirebuzz: “Amazon is rolling out its new design randomly. Not everyone sees it, and it only appears in Firefox.”
  • Download Squad: “Don’t expect any drastic changes. Most of the updates are cosmetic. For example, you can choose categories to search and browser through a navigation panel on the left side of any screen. You know, pretty much just like you can do now. The difference is you’ll be able to choose categories and subcategories by hovering your mouse. No more waiting for a fresh page to load.”
  • ***Functioning Form: “Recently, Amazon began testing a design that brought back a prominent listing of their most popular categories. However, access to these links is now in the form of a left-side navigation menu instead of tabs at the top of the page. The new header features a prominently displayed search box and access to your shopping cart and lists. While I don’t know the full context behind the redesign, I’m assuming the company needed a better way to expose the breadth of their inventory as the dynamic “all product categories” tab (used on the site today) required an explicit action to activate.”
  • Computerlove: “Amazon who perfected it’s use of tabbed navigation scheme for more than a decade, spending hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars in research and design, removed them in the latest redesign.”
  • User First Web: “The amount of content on the site has long outgrown its tab structure, but until now, Amazon has found creative ways to retain the tab structure while growing their store. I know Amazon does extensive usability testing so this new design is a vote of confidence towards the usability of flyout navigation and primary navigation on the left.”
  • C’Est Moi: “I navigated over to Amazon tonight to buy a book and I was shocked SHOCKED I tell you to find that Amazon just redesigned their website. Now, redesigning is usually a good thing, but what was most shocking is that they GOT RID OF THE TABS.”
  • Etre: “Amazon.com’s first major redesign since 1995 is complete. The focus appears to have been upon improving the website’s navigation”
  • Airbag Industries: “I can only assume that this decision is the result of careful study by many scientists, designers, and mathematics experts from all over the world. Possibly ending an era of navigation through a secret vote conducted in Geneva, Switzerland.”
  • nounverb: “Amazon.com is redesigned, which will beg the question: how many online stores will redesign their pages to be like amazon.com once again?”
  • PagePlane: “Amazon is no [sic] known for cutting edge design, but when an organization this significant does a site makeover it is certainly worth analyzing. Studying its grid, layouts, terminology, focus, and so on, offers valuable insight into what we assume is working well for millions of customers.”
  • twofortyeightam: “Amazon supposedly redesigned but I have been refreshing my browser for a while now and I still can’t see it. I did manage to find a screenshot of the new design on the page where they talk about their makeover”
  • Jason Blogs: “I just noticed that Amazon.com has been redesigned. They made it easier to find the shopping department you want with a left-side navigation menu that displays a submenu when you hover over a main category. And they made it so much easier to find someone’s wishlist.”
  • Pinds.com: “Woa, new, cleaner look for Amazon.com. Interesting hover-effect on the logo linking to the home page.”
  • Spiceee: [Portuguese] “não sei se gostei. me deu a impressão de chegar em casa e ver os móveis em outros lugares. e nem me pediram a chave.” According to Babelfish, this translates to: “I do not know if I liked. it gave the impression to me to arrive in house and to see the furniture in other places. e nor had asked for the key to me.”
  • Ecommerce News: “Amazon.com is testing a redesign of its home page.”

Humorous

  • bechillnow: “Amazon’s new redesign abbreviates my name in a comical way…”

*** = noteworthy review