Indulging a footer fetish on Amazon.com

Used Amazon recently to research digital SLRs for my upcoming purchase. While I was there a few things went through my mind as I surfed this particular web.

1. Why are the most successful digital experiences so friggin ugly?
Amazon.com is something, as a user experience designer, I would never design. Sh*t is strewn about all over the place. Features are bolted on like it’s an A-Team makeshift-tank. And like those makeshift-tanks, the site kicks some revenue ass and gets the job done. <sardonic-tone>Unbelievable, because it doesn’t look pretty or organized – two key criteria for success in a digital design </sardonic-tone>. They are making huge profits without so much as a single modal window, lightbox affect or QuickView feature.

2. Bored for a moment… What is all that stuff in the footer?… wait a minute… (goes through digital rabbit hole)
Amazon’s footer is like very few I’ve seen. They have a wealth of stuff they are trying out down there. This footer is not just for the About Us and Corporate Site links on most sites. These are micro-sites and spin-off businesses get footer billing. The last one is interesting. This is where they put the link to a $1 billion¬†acquisition. Balls!

I was curious about the role these sites play within the Amazon business. Holding ground for yet-to-be-integrated acquisitions? Testing ground for new business model tweaks? Pet projects for someone within the company?

From what I can tell from the following, a little of all of those.

Stuff I found in the footer:

This site actually hooked me up when I needed a last-minute Christmas gift.
A niche site launched in 2009 to improve the experience of buying and establishing service. Also to compete with the Best Buy's of the world. A true spin-off from the main site - not acquisition-based from what i see.
Curious little social Q&A site. One of the main questions relates to what the site is. This is a different animal than the other footer links. Sort of had it's day.
A niche experience for digital content. $300 million purchase from a couple of years ago. One of the footer links that falls under "tweaking future business models"
The billion dollar baby. Good sign that a year later it is still in the footer.

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