Design Critique on eBay Buy Section

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Design Critique on E-Bay Buy Section

Table of Contents:

Purpose of the document
The original E-Bay Web Page
Accessibility & Usability
Page Layout



The moment when we hear the world “Online Auction” the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind is the eBay. Apart from many other online auctions that are widely available on the Internet, eBay has secured a top rank.

The site attracts a wider range of audience throughout the world and the ability to customize the eBay interface in ones own language makes it even more popular where ‘English’ is not considered the first language. This website is rich with a lot of E-Commerce related functionalities related to on line shopping.

Online privacy is also a major concern of many online users as it is a growing issue and eBay offers a detailed privacy and security policy relating to its business functions.
Purpose of the document

In this report the main concern would be to review and critique the interface design of the BUY section of and highlight the problems identified with a view of delivering a better interface that would increase the satisfaction level of eBay users and propose an alternative interface (a proto-type).

However, attention will be only focused into the interface design of the buy section and not the in built functionalities. Areas that are covered in this report would include the “look” and “feel’ and also the design presentation of the visual components of the system.

Original E-Bay Web Page

E-Bay View Before  (Picture extracted from Ebay on 03/06/06)



Accessibility & Usability


The Buy section is one of the commonly visited parts of the eBay web site. At a glance the first thing that one would notice is the font size of the categories are relatively smaller and it gives the idea of an information overload. It gives the message as if the web site is trying force all the products in the initial view of the site visit. Suggestion would be to clearly categorize them into menus with sub menus. The menus can be even graphical,

Ex: instead of having the Heading “DVD’s & Movies” in text form, there could have been a picture of a DVD or a sign of a movie clip as it communicates the message much faster than reading text.

The long categories should certainly be avoided in order to give the users an easy access to the products that they would be after.

Page Layout

“But the important thing learned by GUI designers from the Web is that screens do not have to be complicated to be useful - if the form solves a need and is easy to use, then people will use it.” (Carter, (1999))


When someone initially visits to the buy section of the eBay, the natural intention is to see the products first.  So it would be more appealing if the information related to pricing, time and bidding information to be displayed on the left hand side and functions related to search to be on the right hand side of the page.

Simple layout requirements such as white space and composition are based on the way people react to visual stimulus that can motivate or discourage interest. White space provides a visual balance for successful design “(Coulson, 1998)




Looking closely we can identify the global navigation for the home page appearing towards the top followed by some sub links appearing right next to it. It can be identified the search box is placed towards the top right hand corner in relatively smaller fonts which makes it bit difficult to notice much. It could be suggested that use of bit colorful page may make the navigation an easier task than before and even making it being noticed quickly.



The overall look and feel of the “buy” section of the eBay is quite successful. Since it is being viewed and accessed by a larger audience throughout the world by people with different backgrounds it can be suggested that the particular web page should not be filled with too much information making it hard to understand. A simple and a clear web structure would make a huge difference from the point of many users. Adding few areas related to the security levels maintained in eBay buy section would give the user an initial feeling that the site is secure. After all the customers are going to conduct transactions with a totally unknown party that he or she would not be able to see on the other end of the computer. The first impression of the web site counts a lot to it.

Reducing text and emphasizing the eBay brand identity would have a great impact on the user as well.



1) Carter, P. (1999). A brief history of GUI. [On-Line] Available URL:

2) Coulson, K. (1998). Graphics: A New Zealand approach. Auckland, NZ: Addison Wesley Longman New Zealand Ltd, pg. 97


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