Amazon – design a 4 year old can use was recently using Amazon at home and my 4 year old son joined me. After I’d completed my ordering he asked me if he could have a go. To put this in context he’s at the stage where he can recognise brands (e.g. Tesco, M&S, etc.), his own name and a few letters but can’t actually read other words.

I found it fascinating to observe how he managed to use the site easily despite not being able to read.

Add to Shopping BasketHe clicked the logo taking him back to the home page. On there he saw a product image he liked (Star Wars video game), clicked it. On this page he clicked a play icon to watch a video preview of the game. When that ended he clicked the yellow button with a shopping basket icon to buy it. He then looked further down the screen where Amazon displays other related products – items other customers bought or viewed – and found some Star Wars toys. By following this process of clicking on related products and adding them to the basket he soon had over £300 of toys and video games in the basket. He even seemed to understand the product star rating system.

This speaks volumes about how good the design of this site is.

It can be navigated without any need for reading text. Amazon‘s use of images and dynamically generating related images is superb. The human brain processes and recognises images and icons much faster than it can read text.

It’s obvious how to buy something even to someone with almost no previous internet experience. A clear button which stands out from the rest of the page bearing a shopping basket icon leaves no doubt about how you proceed to buy the product.

One final tip – if you’ve got young children make sure you don’t leave yourself logged in to Amazon or Father Christmas might be back sooner than you’d expect.