Design Portfolio & Resume

Shopping on the Kindle Tablet


Customer Goal

Shop Amazon on my Kindle tablet using a rich, touch-based experience.

Role

Lead Designer (solo)

Key Deliverables

  • Early concept work
  • Wireframes

Process

In February, 2011, I was asked to explore whether Amazon could adapt the WindowShop iPad app (utilizing a grid of product images that could be scrolled or panned) to Android tablets, which would have the further complication of having both 7″ and 10″ versions. Eventually, this became known as the Kindle Fire tablet.

Speed and momentum was critical, so, given the original direction of adapting an existing app, I bypassed some stages of design and leapt into wireframing. I generated a lot of conceptual wireframes, starting with the main product grid and the detail page modal, trying to see if I could finesse enough detail into the smaller frame while still preserving the original experience on the iPad. My success was mixed – a 7” screen really is a lot smaller.

The early wireframes helped the team identify issues with adapting from the iPad and also paved the way to convince senior stakeholders that it was viable to support portrait in addition to landscape (again, the iPad experience).

I typically had to generate at least versions of every feature, if not more, so that the stakeholders could figure out the requirements and decide on the final direction. Sometimes they changed their mind, so I’d generate more wireframes, all ultimately in service of delivering the best experience to the customer.

Final Product

After I handed over the design to a dedicated tablet design team, the business changed their mind and decided to move away from the original direction of adapting the iPad WindowShop app experience to the Kindle, in the direction of providing a more “traditional” Amazon experience. That said, many of the designs I contributed to shipped with few changes.

Outcome

The Kindle Fire tablet (7”) was released in November 2011.

Lessons Learned

  • No matter how hard you work or how many small to moderate changes you make, it doesn’t always work to adapt an experience designed for a larger screen to a smaller one; put another way, things don’t always work as planned, but that’s OK
  • Advocate early that stakeholders become familiar with the target platform and OS – go out of the way to make this happen as it’ll only make your life as a Designer easier
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re starting to flounder due to workload

Additional Context

Not only was there a smaller size to contend with along with a different OS moving from the iPad to the Kindle Fire, but there would also be, I felt, a customer expectation of using the device in portrait orientation rather than the land-locked orientation of the iPad WindowShop app. Initially, my senior management stakeholders did not agree. But, through more discussion and plenty of wireframe iterations, they ended up agreeing. Note: Amazon has increasingly pushed designers to go as high-fidelity as possible as quickly as possible, so I skipped sketching entirely on this project, creating a ton of wireframes instead.

This project required a lot of concept work and exploration as the business often changed the requirements themselves, or, since it was a new platform, the platform or other product teams would make changes that would have a ripple effect on the shopping app. Lots of restarts of various features and design directions as the company iteratively figured things out. Eventually, since I was stretched thin across projects, they ended up hiring two dedicated designers for the project and I handed it off to them at the point of creating specs, comps and assets.