Yesterday, my aunt Arlene called me in a panic. She had an appointment to run to and an online shopping cart full of gifts for her grand-children and great nieces and nephews and couldn’t figure out how to ship them to their multiple addresses. Amazon.com does a pretty good job at letting you put multiple addresses in your address book but when it came time to selecting which products go to which addresses a simple 8 characters could have made a huge difference.
You know I am big fan of Amazon and their focus on continuous improvement and testing, but I think they are letting bunches of people become frustrated because of the usability challenges of a pull down select form field. You can see below a screenshot of the page Amazon provides to send your choices to multiple addresses. Notice on the right the select pull down menu and the fact that it is showing only one address. My aunt, and I am sure plenty of other people might not figure out that you have to hit the little arrow in that pull down menu to see the other addresses. It is well known that many users find drop down menus a usability challenge. I checked this page on multiple platforms and browsers and it displayed the same way.
If Amazon would have defaulted the size of the drop down to show at least 3 addresses, I don’t think she would have had a problem realizing that her full address book was in this pull down. There certainly is room in the design for it, because the item descriptions on the left all take up at least 3 lines. However, the one line pull down probably looks better form a designer’s perspective. You can see in the code snippet below how Amazon could make this process easier with just 8 characters, size=”3″.
What do you think Amazon should do? Should they eliminate the pull down all together? Sending packages to multiple addresses is a big issue this time of year. Should they let their customers become frustrated at this process? What would you do?