Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Amazon Wishlist

Each year I collect a selection of desirable products and books together on my Amazon wishlist and then make sure that list is shared with my close friends and family.

This has revolutionised Christmas and Birthdays for my family, meaning people actually get things they would like and making shopping for these events much easier.

Part of me is sad about this as I used to love finding that perfect gift for everyone, but it is stressful and time consuming to do this and to be honest I was not always successful.

Now everything is so much easier and I know that if I get someone something from their list, they should be pretty happy with it and it does not stop me supplementing the list if I find something else appropriate.

And I actually think the Amazon wishlist works pretty well. I can collect not just things from the Amazon site but items from other sites too, although there are a few sites which will not let me include an image.

Then if I buy something from a friends wishlist, either from Amazon or elsewhere, it removes that item so that other people will not purchase it too, and my husband says that when he has tried to add things back to his wishlist which he did not realise had been bought for him, Amazon normally tells him that that item has already been on his wishlist and has now been purchased.

The only other thing I thought it needed was a way for people who were buying things to see an up to date list while leaving me with a full list so I do not accidently find out what has been bought for me.

And this feature has now been added. Great.

My only issue with this is that it has been turned on by default but not advertised. So come Boxing Day I checked my list as I have a birthday coming up and I need it to be up to date, only to find everything still showing on my list! Not happy I start to remove things which I had received the day before.

Screenshot showing where the the 'Don't spoil my surprise' text sits.
You have to edit your list to change the default

This would have been a great opportunity for Amazon to say ‘Hey did you know we’ve added a thing called ‘don’t spoil my surprise’...’ But they did not and it was only when I started moaning at my sister that she told me about it - something she had only stumbled on herself.

So what can we learn here. If you are about to change a default setting on your product, even if it is a really cool new feature, tell people what you have done. If this changes the way your product works people are going to be confused or angry if they do not understand why it has changed. I thought the wishlist feature was broken until the change was pointed out to me.

The other thing to remember is that people might not see your change straight away. My birthday and Christmas are very close together so I have no need to use the wishlist for the rest of the year (although I might buy from it). If this feature was added in February I would not have come across it until December. I would have thought Christmas would be the perfect time to ‘remind’ people about the change of functionality as so many people will be using it at this time.

Remember to help people out when you make changes to how something works. Not many users want to poke around to see why or how something has changed and they might not be able to spot the change anyway.

⟨⟨ Previous | Blog home | Next ⟩⟩

Contact Me

If you have any questions about my work please feel free to contact me.

Email me on or find me on Twitter or Linkedin.