Technical Writing Usability

Amazon Heuristic Evaluation

Amazon Website Heuristic Review!

Liz East

Amazon has become one of the largest companies in the world, offering many different product and services to people all over then world. Amazon’s website has proven itself to be usable at some level, as evidenced by the site’s popularity. However, there is always room for improvement and, as the study explained in this post will show, there are many ways still to improve the overall functionality of the site. For my study, I conducted a heuristic evaluation. This method involves evaluating a website or product by comparing it to generally accepted principles of usability. This evaluation can be conducted participants who are new to usability principles; however, typically, they are conducted by experts in the field who are familiar with these principles. Both ways offer different but valid results. Specifically for this study, I used a participant who was moderately familiar with Amazon’s website but not very familiar with usability principles.

The set up for my study was as follows: First, my participant was presented with a task sheet that contain 3 tasks for him to complete as well as a copy of a list of usability principles that included short definitions and an example. I verbally explained to the participant that he was to first go through Amazon’s website to reacquaint himself with the design and then to go through again to complete the three tasks lists on the task sheet. He was instructed to take notes on area in which Amazon’s site did not meet up to one of the listed design principles.

I used a heuristic evaluation because it can provide valuable information about the usability of a site. If a site is beautifully designed but is confusing and frustrating to use and/or navigate through, then a user will most likely leave the site or be unsuccessful in trying to complete their objectives.


There were several issues found. Below are the biggest issues that were found in each task


Task One: Task one required the participant to go through the process of buying a product.

The main issue the participant identified was trouble locating the price of a water bottle. The only price listed was a range of prices. Users were required to pick both a color and a size from two separate locations in order for the prices to be displayed on the product. The participant found this to be very confusing and different from other product layouts he had seen previously. Another issue noted was that the check out page was cluttered and it lacked a way to inform participants where they were in the checkout process.

Principles Broken:

  1. Consistency and Standards
  2. Flexibility and Efficiency
  3. Aesthetics and Minimals
  4. System Status Update.

Task Two: Task two required the participant to store a photo on Amazon’s cloud drive.

The main issue the participant identified was the lack of a button to return to Amazon’s main home page from the cloud drive. The participant eventually re-entered the URL to return back to the home page.

Principles Broken:

  1. Error Prevention
  2. Consistency and Standards

Task Three: Task three required the participant to add an item to a wish list and then delete to item.

The participant identified task three as the easiest task wit the least amount lowest severity of problems. The main issue the participant identified was an inconsistency between what wish lists are titled in different parts of the site. Another issue identified was the lack of options for sharing to social media.

Principles Broken:

  1. Inconsistency and Standards
  2. Control and freedom