UIEtips: The Magic Behind Amazon’s 2.7 Billion Dollar Question

Jared Spool

March 17th, 2009

A few weeks back, I wrote about how changing a button increased a major e-commerce site’s revenue by $300 million dollars.

The article quickly became one of the most popular articles we’ve ever published. People love the fact that a small design change could be linked to a huge increase in revenues. It’s the ultimate ROI story.

Yet in our research at User Interface Engineering, we see these kinds of increases all the time. And $300 million isn’t anywhere close to the biggest.

In today’s article, The Magic Behind Amazon’s 2.7 Billion Dollar Question, I talk about a design element whose income contribution is possibly 10 times larger. It’s a simple question on the Amazon site – one you’ve probably seen a thousand times – yet it is critical to the success of the business.

Unlike the previous story, where we worked on the project, this story comes from our research of Amazon, independent of any projects we’ve done for them. Therefore, our revenue projections are estimates this time. But even if we’re off by an order of magnitude, it’s still an impressive number that tells us how a well-thought-out design can make a big difference.

Increasing the effectiveness of a design is exactly what we’re talking about at the UIE Web App Summit, in Newport Beach, CA, April 19-22. Not signed up yet? Register now!

Have you had any design changes that had a big impact on your organization’s bottom line? We’d love to hear your stories. Share you thoughts below.

4 Responses to “UIEtips: The Magic Behind Amazon’s 2.7 Billion Dollar Question”

  1. Nathan Philpot Says:

    I sometimes have problems with ranking systems, because the initial reviews that get high or low rankings stay at the top or the bottom, because those are the reviews seen and voted on. All the ones in the middle never make into these categories.

    I also think it is a stretch to associate 2.7 b dollars with this simple question. I think it is great, but not worth 2.7b dollars.

  2. Gene Lewis Says:

    I would tend to agree with Nathan. The “was this useful?” question has been used for quite some time within the technical support world, helping companies to provide more effective help to their customers by leveraging the knowledge and experience of the customer community itself. Like Nathan, I question the numbers – I think that it’s far more complex than the simple equation you applied, but I understand the logic. The numbers certainly make the headline of the piece more attractive, but it could easily be a fraction of that. Either way – a good thing to note and I couldn’t agree more with the underlying theme that minute design changes/optimizations can have a sea change effect on a user’s experience.

  3. Luca Mondini » Quando il design conta davvero Says:

    [...] articoli che descrivono come due scelte di design apparentemente semplici possano portare ad uno straordinario aumento delle revenues: A few weeks back, I wrote about how changing a button increased a major e-commerce [...]

  4. Holly Phillips Says:

    Great article pointing out an innovative way around the costly internal editor function. It also highlights an interesting dilema for a company like Amazon: if the negative reviews are the most helpful and you make those more visible, the result is most likely a decrease in sales for that item — but an increase in customer satisfaction for avoiding a disappointing purchase. A company has to hope that in the long run, as Amazon has shown, it’s the increase in satisfaction that will garner customer loyalty and (hopefully) make up for the short-term drop in sales.

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