Amazon: We're testing a redesign

Perhaps coinciding with its alleged launch of a new "iPad rival," Amazon says it is testing a redesign that will make the site (even) easier to use.

Can you remember a time when there wasn't an Amazon?

The site seems to have been around since pages took 30 minutes to load. And it's always seemed the same. Some blue, some orange, and as utilitarian as a dustpan and brush.

So how strange it would be if Amazon suddenly looked, well, 21st century. I cannot guarantee that this will happen, but the company has admitted to The Wall Street Journal that it is testing a redesign.

Oddly for a site that is spectacularly easy to use, this redesign is intended to make it even easier. What could this mean? You could just whisper at the screen and your wishes are granted within 12 seconds?

John Falcone/CNET

Well, just take a look at the before and after screenshots. There are fewer products, more white space, and therefore, dare one suggest, a dangerous increase in the site's level of sophistication. (Retailers always worry about being too sophisticated.)

Look how much larger the search box has become. But please remember, Amazon doesn't really want you to buy CDs and books. It wants you to buy all the more virtual, gadgety things. They're far less bother. Indeed, the concealment of the list of departments on the left of the page might suggest the site will personalize itself even more to your most modern needs.

This all may just have something to do with the promise of a new Amazon tablet , which might even be called--breathe deeply now--Kindle. This, its alleged iPad rival , may reportedly retail for as little as $250.

Not everyone is currently privileged to view the new design. An Amazon representative told the Journal: "We are continuing to roll out the new design to additional customers, but I can't speculate on when the new design will be live for everyone."

There will, no doubt, be those who will whine. That's what people do. But a good redesign makes you forget the old very, very quickly.

Online retail sites are beginning to discover that the principle of filling every last square inch of space with product--just as some department stores love to do--may not be the best way of maximizing your business.

Sometimes, people need to relax before they buy.

 

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