"you do not need to create an account to make purchases on our site. Simply click Continue to proceed to checkout."
"to make your future BestBuy.com purchases even faster, you can create an account during checkout."
Best Buy had close to $25 bil in revenue in 2004 and 2005.
I think an implicit lesson in this story is that you should have a system to track the way visitors travel through your site (access patterns). With this in place they could have seen at a glance from the very beginning that a lot of customers balked at the register form immediately before checkout.
It's not quite as obvious for a shopping site. Users are going to all the necessary information anyway, but if you pose the question as "Would you like to save this information" at the end instead of "Create an account to get started", it makes a world of difference.
Indeed. Though there are some fairly easy steps to reduce this as much as possible.
1. Give guests full use of all the features of the site. Posting, editing, befriending, etc. Store this information by identifying them by the combination of IP + username (which they have to enter for each post) or something similar. This will encourage them to participate (no barrier to entry) and let them decide whether or not they want to become a full member.
2. If they register, link everything they posted while they were guests to the new account, i.e. change the username on all the old posts (if necessary), etc. That way they don't lose all their stuff.
3. The only required information should be a username and password. An e-mail address should be optional, with a warning that if you don't provide one you won't be able to recover your account if you lose your login details. Naturally you should be able to provide one later if you decide you really don't want to lose the account. This keeps the "You just want to send me spam" people happy.
4. No mandatory confirmation email. When you click submit on the registration form you should be logged in and ready to go. Opening your mail client/website is an unnecessary and annoying step.
I might have missed one or two points, but adhering to these rules should take the majority of the pain out of registering.
It's a usability nightmare. No one knows what OpenID is, I only heard of Facebook Connect from you mentioning it.
I once tried to establish an OpenID account for stackoverflow, but it was too much of a hassle so I didn't bother registering. Users can just reuse names and passwords. It sucks from a security perspective, but unless you can make it transparent to the user, you're pretty much boned because no one will want to use it.
Not that I know anything about Amazon specifically, but I wouldn't be so sure. Sometimes it's hard to step back and change something as fundamental as requiring users to register before they purchase. Even if people inside the company had said it was a good idea it might have taken and outside "expert" to get it done.
They may have in the past. As it is now it'll ask you for an email address, make the sale, and remember any relevant information if you want to sign up after, including your CC if you want to make it your account's default payment option.
- The checkout path is the most important part of a site that sells consumer products, the people you lose here are ready to buy: If you lose them during the process it's money right out the window. For this reason it's the most optimised part of any serious retail site.
- This is a pretty standard trap, and any usability professional will know this. I would be very surprised if Amazon, even years ago, was designed by Jeff Bezos 14 year old cousin.
- Amazon is known for running split tests and numbers on their site to see how something works. They have done this since they launched. The thought that they somehow didn't do so on the checkout path, the most important part of the site, is pretty far fetched.
- Jeff Bezos is a numbers guy - he used to be a stock broker, and is crazy about optimising and testing.
It's like saying Steve Jobs approved the new line of Ipods being Scottish tartan with the user interface outsourced to Microsift.
Well, they almost certainly did if this story is true. Please point me out one other company that's worth around $25b and has the online sales to do improve by $300m per year. Just one. Regardless of what you think about Amazon specifically, who else fits this profile? It's not as if there are $25b companies doing hundreds of millions in sales online that you don't know about.
This is a standard trap now, but he was a numbers guy back when it wasn't, and he hired someone to optimize and test. They found that error.
It's nice of Matt to find counterexamples to your arguments. But you should know that pointing out that you use circular logic is enough to show that your argument is not valid (in other words, no counterexample is really needed). Now, this doesn't necessarily say anything about whether this company is Amazon or not, but it does show that your proof, that there is no way this is Amazon, does not hold water.
(The first two quoted lines are my own interpretation, others are quotes.)
"Amazon is a big company. Big companies don't make amateur mistakes. That's why they're big."
"Therefore, Amazon doesn't make amateur mistakes."
"The checkout path is the most important part of a site that sells consumer products, the people you lose here are ready to buy: If you lose them during the process it's money right out the window. For this reason it's the most optimised part of any serious retail site."
"The thought that they somehow didn't do so on the checkout path, the most important part of the site, is pretty far fetched."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man (nobody said they thought Amazon absolutely decided to skip usability testing of checkout functionality. Also, for example, they could have tried but did not think of changing it, or ran out of good subjects who hadn't already used Amazon's checkout page, bad selection of candidates, poor interpretation of results from the split tests, or had lots of bureaucracy or competing work or designs of checkout incompatible with such changes, human error, that this looks easy in retrospect but not something they thought of at the time, person in charge of that being complacent, etc.)