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Amazon cuts tab clutter in home page test

The e-tailer is quietly testing a new look for its Web site, keeping its familiar store tabs but limiting the number that appear on any one page.

    Amazon is quietly testing a new look for its Web site, keeping its familiar store tabs but limiting the number that appear on any one page.

    The new look would replace Amazon's current count of 15 store tabs with two to three permanent tabs and five temporary tabs. The permanent tabs would include a link to the site's welcome page and a link to a list of all the company's stores. The rotating tabs, which would change on a periodic basis, would include links to five "featured" stores.

    Like previous tests of its home page, Amazon is presenting the page to only a fraction of its users.

    "As we expand our offerings, we want to make it even simpler for you to get what you want from our growing list of stores, while maintaining the elegance and usefulness of the tabs themselves," Amazon said in a note to customers. "We'd love to hear your comments and suggestions about our plans for the redesign of our navigation."

    Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith said the new look is only a test design that the company may or may not choose to implement. Citing "competitive reasons," Smith declined to say when Amazon began testing the new look or how long it would run the test.

    "It's a new way to help people find things they are looking for based on where they've gone in the past," Smith said. "We're constantly trying to find ways to improve ourselves."

    The new look comes as Amazon has rapidly expanded its offerings, opening four new stores since the beginning of the year. Last month, the company added a home-furnishings store in conjunction with Living.com.

    But as the company has added stores and store tabs, its navigation has become somewhat unwieldy, and the company has explored several new designs.

    Earlier this year, Amazon tested a new home page design that eliminated the store tabs and replaced them with text links, giving the e-tailer the look and feel of a portal site such as Yahoo. Amazon has also added and tested more personalized features on its home page, including a "new for you" column of customized recommendations.