Mobile Shopping (Kindle Fire Tablet)

Customer Goal

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


Lead Designer (solo)

Key Deliverables

  • Early concept work
  • Wireframes


The Kindle Fire tablet (7”) was released in November 2011. Many of my designs shipped, despite a business decision to move the product from the Mobile Shopping team I was a part of to a new, dedicated team, and change from an iPad-style design to one more analogous to the Web experience.


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, the smaller size having never been explored before. Eventually, this became known as the Kindle Fire tablet.

Speed and momentum was critical to the executives, so, given the original direction of adapting an existing app, I bypassed some stages of early design and leapt into wireframing. I generated a lot of conceptual wireframes (an expected downside of bypassing early process), starting with the main product grid and the detail page modal, attempting to finesse enough detail into the smaller frame, while preserving the original experience on the iPad. My success was mixed – a 7” screen really is a lot smaller than one that’s 10″!

The early wireframes helped the team identify issues with adapting the iPad solution, and paved the way for me to convince senior stakeholders that it was viable to support portrait, in addition to landscape view they were comfortable with from the prior iPad solution.

I typically generated at least several versions of every feature so that stakeholders could figure out the requirements, and decide on the final direction. Sometimes they changed their mind, resulting in a lot more wireframes, all ultimately in service of delivering the best experience to the customer. In retrospect, I wish they would’ve followed a proven design lifecycle with research and exploration up front, as I believe that would’ve saved time and resources along the way.

Lessons Learned/Constraints

  • No matter how hard you work, it doesn’t always work to adapt an experience designed for one context to work in another – but mistakes are a great way to learn what to do, or not do
  • 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, senior management stakeholders did not agree. But, through more discussion and plenty of wireframe iterations, they ended up changing their minds.

The project required a lot of concept work and exploration as the business often changed the requirements, or, since it was a new device and platform for the company, the other product teams would make technical or design changes with a ripple effect on the shopping app. There were lots of restarts of various features and design directions as the company iteratively figured things out.