The Geography of Amazon.com
Amazon.com has several important geographical dimensions - both real and virtual. For any Internet
company the principle public face is their web site. Amazon.com's web site is vital - it is its storefront to the world. Web sites are a form of geography - geography of the screen. It is easy to use and crucially, fast loading over home modems with only a few small graphics. The site is also backed up with innovations such as one-click ordering. To explore the virtual space of Amazon's web site one either browses or uses keyword searching. Web pages
are generated from databases of the many millions of books, CDs, videos and gifts that Amazon stocks. The geography of the screen is a world in miniature, totally under the control of the designers (Johnson 1997). The design and usability of web sites is an area of increasing concern given the rising number of people who are accessing information and services via this medium.
This is not
necessarily an area for geographical concern being more at the scale of architecture (Wurman 1997) and design (Jacobson 1999). The major reasons people shop online is the speed and convenience, however too many web site designs fail seriously to meet these requirements (Chaplin 1999). Key problems are difficulties with site navigation, confusion over how to order and most especially slow
loading pages. This all impacts directly on the experience of shopping online. Amazon is better than many e-commerce sites and this is reflected in its growing number of customers (table 1) and high volume of repeat business. For some, usability is also an issue of accessibility, for example when sites are rendered completely unusable for people with disabilities (Waddell 1999). As well as screen space, domain space is a vital commodity in today's...