Please tell us why the Amazon homepage doesn't auto-focus into the search box. I think of this every single time I go to the site.
I loathe online store sites that auto-focus the search box. Worst are the ones that do it on every single page, including item detail pages. I use the space bar to scroll webpages down, especially on my laptop, which has a very small screen so that I almost always have to scroll down to get past header crap and get to the meat of the page. And no mouse, just a mediocre touchpad.
I can maybe accept auto-focusing search on the homepage, but there is no excuse for an item detail page. Even if I got here through a search engine, I probably want to see if this item is the item I wanted before I go searching the rest of your store, and that's going to require scrolling.
Definitely make the search box the first input in the tab-order though. Then if I do want to go straight to search, I can tap tab and then start typing. Otherwise, I usually want to scroll first and nothing is more frustrating than nothing happening when you hit space, only to realize that some tiny obscure search input buried in the corner of the page header that you didn't even realize was there is filled with spaces.
The best of both worlds would be to only auto-focus the search input if the user starts typing letters, and ignore space/arrow keys. We do this on Grooveshark actually.
I really wish every website would set their primary search input's tabindex to 1.
Spoken like a true hacker.
Too often a site discussed on HN is criticized for a design decision that is easily changeable on the client. Anything that is slightly inconvenient for one specific workflow is a "misfeature", ignoring entirely that many people like it that way. A site designer cannot please everyone.
Most non-hackers do not even notice this stuff. Go find a normal person and ask them to list the sites they visit and whether or not they auto-focus the search box. They do not notice. We are the weird ones.
If it annoys you, change it. You have the power. Most of the time what you want can be accomplished with a simple extension, no coding required.
If not, you can write your own extension, or write a script for an extension, or "use" browsers like uzbl and luakit, or write your own browser. Then you can put your solution on the web, so other people can benefit.
For people who use up/down arrow or pgup/pgdown keys to scroll down the page (which is pretty much all laptop users), this focus stealing misfeature would frustrate them to no end.
I won't go back to any site that does this.
Steady on, soldier. I just asked a question.
Judging from the up-votes it seems this resonates with a lot of people.
To me you haven't made any case at all why others should have to suffer so you can have auto-focus on Amazon when your needs are already met elsewhere.
"!amazon thingamabob" (or just "!a thingamabob").
Way more convenient than going to the homepage and worrying about search auto-focus.
"a foo" to search on amazon, "g foo" google, "i foo" imdb, "m foo" google maps, "w foo" wikipedia, "u foo" urbandictionary, etc... I have more but they are not public sites.
Sounds like the two could complement each other, like aliases and completion in a shell.
I have "w" for wikipedia, "y" for youtube, "gm" for google maps, etc...
This is THE feature of Chrome that I use constantly every day. It saves 5-10 seconds on each search you do every day. It adds up.
Isn't a better strategy to optimize for the common use-case?
I don't think it makes sense on Amazon. A typical amazon user may browse around and explore outside of search. Maybe most of the time they will search, but there are no doubt other use cases like using the fancy nav. It's even possible that they want to encourage user's the browse around a bit instead of finding what they want and leaving right away.
The kind of user who likes to browse will probably browse using a mouse, not a keyboard like us nerds. So the position of the cursor doesn't matter to them.
I hardly ever go to Amazon and not directly search for something (except maybe during Black Friday deals when I just click on the banner). I'd bet Amazon loses money by making me do an extra mouse click into the search box every time.
Unless there's a sizeable proportion of users who go to the homepage and scroll using the keyboard, I don't get it.
Also, if you're a nerd, just search right in the browser. If I want to search Amazon I never actually go Amazon first I just type "a", hit tab and then my search terms. Chrome is smart enough to do the rest and I get right to the SERP on Amazon.
edit: Mouse movement = tracking content with eyes? http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5333496
Why do you think they obsess over dropdown menus?
So this topic made me curious, were does the first tab in the tab chain on Amazon go? I loaded the page in firefox, hit tab, and saw the first tab was http://amazon.com/access
Ok, this is an interesting design choice. That access link goes to a page with minimal styling, probably optimized for screen readers.
Now I'm really curious, and I pop open NVDA to give the page a listen. After the page title was read, the access link was read, which was very helpful: "A different version of this web site containing similar content optimized for screen readers and mobile devices may be found at the web address: www.amazon.com/access". It would have been best if Amazon did the work to make their default site screen reader accessible, but this is a nice alternative to having no accessibility at all.
Amazon needs to do some html/css/script minification on their homepage! Oh, nevermind, they gzipped it. :)
It's my first extension, so be gentle if it has issues.