Successful user experience design for retail brands

When discussing design, we often talk about the purely visual concept, but the design of a site is so much more. In this post we'll talk a bit about the design of flow - how the user experience is designed for making conversions. We'll use two successful brands, Amazon and Apple, as examples of good design beyond the surface with the focus areas that have made those big names even bigger - and it's all about the clicks.

Amazon - Giving you what you didn't know you wanted

Figuring out what the visitor is looking for is one thing, figuring out what the visitor wants is a whole other ballgame. Once again we go to, whose most successful feature is the related or suggested item - products that are frequently bought together or at least viewed in relation to the featured item. Simply put: using their huge database of customers' browsing and buying patterns, Amazon has designed a process where people indirectly will recommend items that lie within their interest to people with similar tastes. These design elements are now found on most retail sites, some tweaked a little bit differently, but with the core intact: the user going "Oh, that looks interesting..."

Apple - Building the shortest way from the eye to the buy

Finding what you want without having to look for it saves time both for the customer and for the company. So designing the site for users finding exactly what they came looking for saves a lot of clicks and for brands that focuses mainly on the pitch of their products, the Amazon approach isn't always viable. No matter how sleek the design of's frontpage is, it's not that which makes it a successful retailer, but instead the fact that no matter where you are on the page, you're never more than two clicks from initiating the buy process. As they keep their flagship products prominently displayed in the navigation menu they're making sure that when you're finally interested in that smartphone the buy-button's right there leading you along the path to the store.

User experience is so simple, isn't it?

These elements of course have been tried and tested a myriad times to optimise for the best on-page placements, so to get the best results it's not just to copy what's been designed for another page, but be inspired and test, test, test to get the best user experience for your site. They aren't just for retail sites either, as the "related content" and "most viewed" are frequently used in blogs and news outlets showing other posts of interest, and are in that setting excellent ways to get users to continue browsing the site, while download sites often employ the "short path" to give the users quick access.