I personally do not do a lot of online shopping, or shopping in general, but when I do, I tend to use Amazon.com. I generally do my book shopping, my electronics shopping, and my discretionary shopping through this site. I believe that, while rather plain, the site is built in such a way as to maximize spending from its consumers, and uses a mix of rhetorical awareness, user-centered design, and graphic design, in order to maximize revenue.
Amazon is, in part, so successfully because it, following the ideas of John McWade, has a powerful narrative. The company was established with the goal of becoming a massive retailer with a wide variety of products, and their site, design, and customization all emphasis how they are the place that you can buy anything. This is clear on the home page, which is full of products the website thinks you might be interested in, but is designed in such a way that it feels unintimidating, helpful, and free of clutter.
John McWade, in the video “Before & After: Things Every Designer Should Know”, talks about how design should be as simple as possible in order to emphases the key message that one is trying to convey to their audience. Going back to the point above, Amazon uses the design of its site far more than its logo, as the iconic design and layout is enough to easily distinguish them. Instead of using up space for a logo, the vast majority of their webpage is focused on their central mission of displaying the many products that they think their customers are interested in, and as a result of this design choice, they make their mission and purpose very clear to consumers.
Interestingly, I never noticed in the past how Amazon used a focal point to draw attention to any specific area on their website. After watching the video, I realized that the huge, running banner just below the search bar is a clear focal point that draws the attention of the viewer. It is an extreme focal point, due to its relative size, that highlights some of Amazon’s own personal offerings rather than offerings from other suppliers, and serves the second function of reminding the viewer that Amazon has many unique products outside of their core retailing operations. The product’s include Prime music, Prime video, and Amazon’s unique tablets and smartphones, emphasizing their transition into a full-on technology company rather than just a retailer.
Amazon also makes use of user-centered design in order to draw users to purchase from them. Most importantly, the website is very easy to follow along with and to navigate. Through its excellent search engine and filter systems, an individual can find offerings in whatever category and price range they wish. This adds immensely to the attractiveness of shopping through Amazon, as products are easy-to-find and available, making them easy to purchase on a whim, with mutual benefits for the consumer and the company.
Finally, Amazon.com has made available a compelling amount of rhetorical awareness for users of their website, although they do not write the content. The user-review section of the site provides all of the important elements of rhetorical awareness regarding persuasion, and have, for me at least, persuaded or dissuaded me from making a purchase. This section of the website provides a ton of helpful information for making purchases, as former purchasers can endorse the product, thus persuading a prospective buyer, or provide negative feedback on the product, thus dissuading the prospective purchaser, through their own stories and experience with the product.
The result of Amazon.com’s use of rhetorical awareness, User-centered-design, and graphical design is a powerhouse website that easily serves as a one-stop shop for the majority of discretionary consumer purchases. The easily navigated format, the reviews, the availability and search-ability, and the product suggestions all serve to draw the user in and make the buying experience feel like a well-informed, and safe, experience. The results of this strategy have spoken for themselves over the last few years, with the firm capturing a huge portion of the retail space and a large, loyal, customer base.
(Image courtesy of Pixabay)