The Great Copy Debate

by Andy Brudtkuhl on March 1, 2010

There was a great post from Search Engine Land last week called “It’s A Fatal Mistake To Copy Successful Web Sites“…

Someone asked, “Why don’t we all just copy” I replied, “Never, ever copy what Amazon does.” The audience responded with surprise, thinking I was not a fan of Amazon.

Not true. The reason you don’t want to copy a successful site like Amazon is that their website requirements are not likely to be the same as your site requirements. Their users may have different characteristics than your site visitors. Their customers’ needs may be completely different. You don’t have the user, traffic analysis and usability testing data they’ve collected over the years that they use as a base for their user interface, information architecture and content delivery.

Now this goes in the exact opposite direction when we said “You Should Copy E-Commerce Design“.

However – I think we are both right. In the context Kim speaks about in her argument why you should not copy is the varying degree of requirements. Obviously Amazon has a unique audience that demands specific requirements that Amazon has thoughtfully researched and implemented over the last ten years. We don’t recommend that you try (why would you?) to copy Amazon’s information architecture or to layout your site in the same exact fashion.

But when it comes down to function, usability, and conversion – why not copy them? They’ve been doing research for the last 10 years on e-commerce usability and conversion optimization. Most small businesses running e-commerce don’t have an analytics research staff – let alone the data to even begin. So why not copy the color of their buttons, or their “Add To Cart” text, or even their shopping cart layout.


One of the taglines we have at 48Web is – “We’ve done the research so you don’t have to“…

In the case of Amazon – they’ve done the research so why not copy them?

Let us know what you think in the comments or jump into the forums!


E-Commerce Checkout Page Design – Learn From

by Andy Brudtkuhl on November 18, 2009

Yesterday I read a tweet from Dan Shipton about a book I’ve heard a lot about – The Paradox Of Choice – so I decided to jump over to Amazon and pick it up. Upon checking out I noticed the beauty that is Amazon’s checkout page design. I thought it was ironic that I was purchasing a book about choice when I came to the realization that Amazon had designed an extremely effective checkout page – that simply reduced the amount of choices.

Here is Amazon’s Checkout Page Design…

Click To Enlarge

Let’s walk through this e-commerce checkout page design. The beauty of this design relates back to the book I was ordering in the first place – Choice. The book explains the psychology of choice – which basically assumes that as more options are provided to a person the less likely they will make a decision. In the case of this Amazon checkout page they have reduced the amount of choices to two: checkout or get out – and they’ve hidden the get out button.

1. Call To Action - Right away Amazon tells you to click the button on the right to place the order

2. Action – Right next to the call to action is the action button – the “Place Your Order” button located in the prime spot in the top right. I guarantee they split tested this numerous times to find the right sweet spot.

3. Get Out – The “get out” button as I like to call it is the only way for a user to get out of this screen and it’s hidden right in the middle – out of sight, out of mind. This is a great tactic to keep people on this screen.

By reducing the amount of choice on their checkout screen Amazon can funnel you into the decision they want you to make, which of course is to finish your transaction.

If you are doing e-commerce or lead generation this is something you need to be aware of on your landing pages, product pages, and checkout pages. By reducing the number of options a user has the odds increase that they will take your preferred path through your goal funnel. If you are having high bounce rates at specific points in your funnel – like the final checkout page – look into the number of options on the page.

Chances are – if you simplify your landing or checkout pages your conversion rates will go up.

Do you have any questions about landing page or e-commerce design? Let us know in the comments or jump into the forums!