We’re all familiar with the Amazon buying process. You visit the website, search for the product you’re interested in, and then immediately check all available listings to find which one has the best reviews. Lower than 4.5 stars? Maybe. Lower than 4 stars? No chance.
Amazon’s rating system was simple but effective — the quickest way to sort the best from the worst, the real from the fake. The stars were arranged neatly in a row, so it was a piece of cake to see precisely how trustworthy a product was at a glance. It couldn’t have been easier.
So, the question remains: Why have they decided to change it?
If you visit Amazon, you’ll be shocked to notice that the site no longer displays five stars in a row on each listing. Instead, each product features a single star alongside a number which shows the average rating.
Why is this such an issue? Well, for those of us that have the old rating system ingrained into our brains, every product now looks like it has a measly one star. I recently disregarded a popular cleaning product as a knockoff until I realized it actually had a 4.8‑star rating.
As developers, we know that even the smallest design changes can have significant impacts. For another prime example, look no further than Apple, who recently tried to change the location of the iPhone’s ‘end call’ button in the latest iOS 17 beta. This seemingly inconsequential change was causing users to accidentally Facetime people instead of hanging up the phone. Naturally, the community retaliated. Apple was quick to reverse the change.
To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you look at it), Amazon’s new system was apparently the better of two options. Amazon has also been testing a variation in which each product rating displays the number of five-star reviews as a percentage. That means you’ll simply see that a product has “40% five-star reviews”. Are the other 60% of ratings four-star or one-star? You can see the problem there.
The main selling point of Amazon is its convenience. Users typically don’t head to the site to browse for their weekly shop. The marketplace should be quick to use and easy to read. Any extra seconds I have to spend shamefully purchasing a pair of jeans from Jeff Bezos are extra seconds wasted.
Born in Cardiff Wales, Max relocated to Brisbane when he was 12. He’s spent the last five years developing expertise in the Fintech industry. When he’s not posting about Web3, you’ll find him on a paddleboard.