This morning some Amazon customers woke up to a new homepage design.
While the new look is very subtle, the changes say a lot about what products and services it wants to emphasize. For example, high on Amazon’s list is its own line-up of hardware, including the Fire Phone, the Fire TV and its tablets and e-readers. It’s also added a designated link to Wish Lists.
So far, the redesign can only be seen by select users in some browsers. For example, some customers reported this morning on Twitter that they noticed the change in Safari, but not Google’s Chrome browser. It also appears for me in Internet Explorer.
It is not clear if the redesign will continue to roll out to more users, or if it is just a test. We’ve reached out to an Amazon spokesperson for comment, and will update the story if we hear back. Update: An Amazon spokesman confirmed that the changes were part of a test, adding “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the shopping experience for our customers.”
The most noticeable change to the site is a new navigation bar at the top of the page. The black header (above) appears more bold and provides a more compressed view of the homepage. On Twitter, Chris Van Horn called the redesign “crispy,” and I’d agree with that description due to the use of two tones. In comparison, the previous site (below) looks very colorless and washed out.
The biggest change after that is the addition of a prominent drop down menu called “Fire & Kindle,” which makes browsing for Amazon’s own devices just as easy as finding a particular sales department. In the new redesign, Wish Lists also receive their own drop-down menu, which is not surprising given how frequently they are used by consumers.
Just last week, Amazon acknowledged how important they are, by rolling out an expanded partnership with Twitter that enables customers to add products to their Wish List from the social network. (The temporary disappearance of Wish Lists last week may have been part of these changes.)
Otherwise, there’s very few changes to the rest of the page.
Both views on my computer, for instance, show the typical sections, like the rotating feature box at the top, and the “related to items you’ve viewed.” The right-hand column also remains the same with house ads for Amazon Fresh and the Amazon Fire phone.
A similar redesign was spotted in July by The Daily Dot, which hints that Amazon has been trying out new concepts on a select customer group for some time. Since that report, the homepage has changed again with a slightly different organization. For instance, the search bar is now embedded in the black navigation header instead of appearing directly below it. Again, the view appears even tighter.
What’s also noticeable is what is missing from site.
Amazon has dropped two links, directing people to “Sell” and “Help.” On the current homepage, the “Sell” link sends you to an overview on how to become a merchant on Amazon, either as a professional or an individual. The “help” button links to the customer service page.
The removal of both links may suggest that customers and merchants are able to easily find those pages through some other means, possibly even by searching on Google, although dropping the “Help” link must have been a controversial move regardless in such a customer-centric organization.
Indeed the changes are subtle, but it marks a shift for the Seattle company, which is clearly focusing more on building hardware than being an unbiased marketplace where customer can buy anything. It’s also worth noting that the Amazon customer is clearly discerning and will notice even the slightest changes in the shopping experience.