MEDIUM: “Material is an adaptable system of guidelines, components, and tools that support the best practices of user interface design. Backed by open-source code, Material streamlines collaboration between designers and developers, and helps teams quickly build beautiful products.” – Google
On our mobile phones, the Amazon App opens up to a user interface that presents the shopper with a simulated market experience; goods are arranged by departments to make sorting easy and fast with a live banner for running ads from popular vendors including Amazon’s direct marketing for Amazon Prime features, discount codes, prepaid shopping vouchers, coupons, etc. There is also a shopping bag which is more a less a trolley/cart in the physical store and a checkout page dedicated to vetting items and processing payments just like the cashier stand at a store. Vendors also have dedicated pages like storefronts where products are listed and adequately described so that a buyer can get some real sense of what he/she might be getting. Some storefronts utilize video for this and even accept third-party video descriptions in their review section to provide even more depth with product description.
Some shopping behavioral patterns unique to humans are also taken into consideration as the App allows for window shopping without the commitment of making a purchase. Buyers can also ‘save items for later’ in case buying isn’t an option momentarily or certain contemplations arise while using the App, and at a later time, can simply ‘checkout’ on saved items without having to search for them all over again.
For all of these interactions to be made possible, there is heavy use of varying text, audio and visual media forms within the App and these are all inbuilt for accessibility through the Apps graphical user interface. Video, audio, text, and photo formats are all in standardized designs that allow for interoperability within the app or outside the App (e.g a review video can be played via a third-party application like an external music player on the device or redirects to a Youtube page using embedded links in the product description). In building the App, we can observe how the designers of the Amazon App graphical user interface obey sets of universally laid down principles, theories, and guidelines to accommodate these media forms while customizing the shopping experience for its users based on some human cognitive and behavioral factors.
Below are some translations of standard design princliples into obvious features on Amazon App:
|STYLE: Standardize task sequences.
||The Checkout sequence is uniform for all users.
|STYLE: Descriptive Links
||Links are labeled in each category (e.g. ‘programs and features’ ‘deal of the day’)
|ACCESSIBILITY: Predictable Pages
||Amazon App provides product suggestions based on items viewed on each page (e.g “Related to items you’ve viewed’ )
|DISPLAY: Flexibility for user control of data display.
||A private view of shoppers’ personal profile allows for more personalization of storefronts within the app.
These and other basic design principles combine with some level of direct manipulation and customizations (i.e simple buttons, reversible actions, meaningful visual metaphors, etc) to make the overall shopping experience on the graphical user interface appear seamless and automated making the Amazon App a relatively user-friendly one.
This user-friendliness might also help explain the many successes of Amazon as a company in the e-commerce/marketplace business which we learn has recently turned in 1 billion US dollars in net worth according to CBS News. It is evident though that considerations for the disabled like the visually impaired, for example, are not presently accommodated by the Amazon App graphical user interface design.
Martin Irvine, Introduction to Symbolic-Cognitive Interfaces: History of Design Principles. Part 3.
Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant, et al. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2016.
Ben Shneiderman. Eight Golden Rules for Interface Design. University of Maryland