It got me thinking that this type of redesign is a scenario that many companies go through over time and it’s often up to to IT and the monitoring staff to help sort out the impact of the new design on web site performance.
Since I don’t have insider access to the inner workings of the Amazon IT department, I can only speculate, but if it involves a major change, and you’re running an eCommerce site as popular and complex as Amazon’s you have to take a lot of factors into account when you make a major change.
The last thing you want to do, especially when your business is the web site itself, as is the case with Amazon.com, is to mess up a good thing when you try to “improve” it. Customers are used to it just working and they will be sadly disappointed if it doesn’t work as expected.
And you will no doubt hear it from the disappointed masses, far and wide on Twitter, Facebook and Google + — and that’s not the kind of publicity you want for your company.
So you have to test and retest. You have to see how it works on multiple devices and platforms and browsers. You have to see how it performs when you get traffic like ‘Black Friday’ sale traffic and you have to see how it scales up and down. You have to make sure everything works as it should and when someone clicks a link, it goes where it’s supposed to. There are a mind-boggling number of details you have to watch out for when you undertake a change such as this — especially on a site like Amazon.
It’s enough to make you want to go back to the old design, but don’t let fear of change keep you from changing. Just make sure you have your monitoring ducks in a row and that you have the tools available to test the myriad of scenarios that you encounter.
And no matter how prepared you believe you are, on the day that you go live, have extra people in place and watch carefully for performance degradation and visitor complaints. Have someone in charge of monitoring social networking traffic and if you hear about problems from anywhere, have the staff in place to attack problems before they get out of your control.
If a site like Amazon is willing to take that chance and make a change, you can do the same with your web site. Just make sure monitoring personnel in IT are involved with the redesign because the last thing you want is unpleasant surprises when you go live.