Even Amazon Isn't Perfect
I was planning on doing a review of the book I just finished, Ambient Findability (Peter Morville), but my search on Amazon to get an image to include with my post produced an interesting result that I had to share first. Amazon is one of the most -- if not most -- comprehensive wayfinding experiences of any online store. Its pioneering use of the Long Tail is well-documented, and Steve Krug went out of his way several times in his book, Don't Make Me Think, to dote on Amazon's mastery of search usability and tab navigation. I have been finding, though, that doing it right is a lot more difficult than we would like to believe.
When I mistyped my search terms, Amazon was not able to recognize the search at all.
I like Amazon because it's easy to find what I want, and it suggests books that I would actually be interested in reading 60-75% of the time (I often have already read them, though, as was the case in the above results page).
For some reason, my typing has been riddled with errors of late -- particularly on my Amazon searches. As an experiment, when I put the same typo in Google's search, I was given a unpretentious and helpful message that told me what an incompetent speller or typist I am.
Because of this function, Google is now often my first resort when I am not sure how to spell something (a risky proposition for commonly misspelled words, but it seems to work okay for my purposes), or if I can't remember a quote precisely. Google often not only shows me the quote, but through its search I can find its author, when it was said, where it was originally stated, and what books I can read to find out more about it. Then I can go back to Amazon and buy the book.
I'm going to assume (That's right, folks, you get only first-class research from ChaosScenario) that the majority of Amazon's sales depend on (among many other things) accurate and relevant search results. Opportunities to improve abound, and in spite of our successes we should not overlook the smaller things that could make us better. Amazon.com can be proud of its many accomplishments (although I have implied before that they are possibly too proud of them), but the website's search results could stand to be improved. - Cam Beck