Amazon User Experience Designer Reviews | Glassdoor

Amazon User Experience Designer Reviews

Updated September 10, 2018
67 reviews

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User Experience Designer

3.7
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Amazon Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
47 Ratings

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Pros
Cons
  • "Work/life balance seems comparable to other places I've worked - not worse" (in 2438 reviews)

  • "I have no work life balance issues" (in 507 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "The world's most customer-centric company is great for designers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Customer obsession and the leadership principles aren't just corporate fluff - Amazonians use these everyday.

    Cons

    Amazon is a fast-paced work environment where people expect direct-talk and ownership


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Boring, dry corporate projects. Bad for UX pros"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Dense problem sets
    Some intelligent colleagues
    Plenty of internal conferences to learn various tools and trades
    Fun campus events

    Cons

    Everyone’s idea of the role of UX is completely different.
    UX turns into UI design, making things pretty, design for “delight”, and copywriting.
    Boring corporate problem sets.
    Org leadership is out of touch with modern digital product development practices, out of touch business people leading “innovative” products.
    Beaurocracy gets in the way of innovation.
    Groggy management adds no value to team process or product strategy.
    Weak project management has everyone confused most of the time.
    I feel like I have literally gone backwards in my career path.

    Advice to Management

    Enforce higher standards with your project / product / program managers. These roles are integral to developing and executing a product and project. Designers and engineers can’t maange everything.
    Give better visibility to strategy

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Bland, uninspired, bureaucratic"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Why two stars when there are almost too many pros to list? Amazon is absolutely worth working for, if only for at least 18 months (less than that just isn't a full dose), because you'll likely never find an environment with this much intensity, rigor, and diligence. And the people--smart. Unfailingly smart, at every level. Few companies think bigger, too; this is a vital part of the culture, and one of the best. You'll always have a chance to think more expansively and imaginatively, and while it may not go anywhere people do appreciate it.

    Cons

    Sadly, for designers, I can only recommend Amazon as a stepping stone. It's a great place to come to if you've never worked for any of the other FANG companies or unicorn startups. Just don't stay too long, use it for some added credibility and some seriously intense experience, and then move on. Why is this?

    First off, Amazon has no taste when it comes to design and little interest in fostering a really full, complete understanding of what it takes to design a product and a great experience. You've seen the site, and you've seen how things like FireTV and Kindle are at best at-parity with similar competitive products. There's no daring in the design here. Good enough is well more than enough.

    And in AWS, which badly needs intelligent and exceptional design, there are limitless opportunities but an unlimited amount of increasingly cumbersome bureaucracy to hack through. It's miserable and discouraging and soul-crushing. You'll get bogged down in menial, tactical micro-details, and you will be micromanaged, before you really can get a sense of how valuable (or not) the service you're working on is.

    Advice to Management

    Pay attention to the creative people you've got. Just because the stock is flying now doesn't mean it always will be.


  4. Helpful (4)

    "Lack of Strong Design Culture or Understanding"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Amazon offers the ability to switch teams pretty much at will so if you get bored you can find a new challenge.

    Cons

    Design culture is nascent at best and design focuses solely on visuals. The company has no focus on design whatsoever and the culture around design has worsened over the last few years as more and more designers that lack the appropriate skills have entered into the upper levels of design who lack UX skills, but easily get by at Amazon due to a general lack of understanding of design and product throughout Amazon.

    Engineers are very talented, but Amazon lacks strong front-end engineers (the role is literally just now being created) and has not prioritized UI developers at all. This makes it even more difficult to partner with engineering - who runs most of Amazon - as none of the engineers share a similar viewpoint since the majority of them do not have front-end skills. Product Management is similar as the majority of PMs at Amazon are glorified business analysts who are tasked with writing documents. Strategy is always secondary at Amazon as wefollow a shoot, fire, aim methodology and just hope that all of the random things we do add up to something we can sell.

    If you're a design, PM, front-end engineer, or anyone looking to grow a career in product, I'd suggest working elsewhere. A few team (HCD, EDG, and maybe one or 2 others) have a stronger product culture, but it is incredibly rare to land on a team where product matters in the slightest.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in designers with strategic skills. Actually make data-driven decisions. Hire legitimate product leaders to rethink product at Amazon.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "UX designer review"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    There is a high bar so you're surrounded by a bunch of smart people

    Cons

    Some orgs (like Alexa) are constantly re-orging which is disruptive and makes work more difficult.

    Advice to Management

    Design processes will save you a LOT of time and effort in the future.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Good but not great"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Lots of opportunity and impact

    Cons

    Not a lot of demand for excellence.


  7. "The interview process was long and intensive. Really makes me feel like I earned employment."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Current Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time

    Pros

    Great environment, friendly and smart people all focused on creating cool innovative technology and experiences. Pay and Benefits are extremely generous.

    Cons

    Early in the interview process I was in contact with three recruiters which caused some confusion around communication. One to two recruiters are enough.

  8. Helpful (4)

    "Overall, design is not highly regarded at Amazon."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Amazon offers competitive compensation, especially as the stock price is going up.

    They're always exploring new areas to grow in and show little to no fear in trying out new business directions.

    The Seattle area is growing more lively with all the development that is happening from Amazon expanding. (However it is also raising housing prices, which is only good if you bought property years ago.)

    Because product and engineering have a long history at Amazon, working in those disciplines have their own unique Amazon cultural quirks that have succeeded in driving the company to where it is now.

    Cons

    Besides two teams (digital devices group and HCD), design is in an overall bad situation at Amazon. The design standards and processes at the company-level are really, really far behind the other big tech companies.

    If you research, you'll find that despite attracting designers with nice compensation packages and holding design fairs to demonstrate how parts of Amazon are doing design well, very few designers who have worked at companies with good design standards stay at Amazon for longer than about a year. Only a handful of teams do design well amongst the hundreds of teams Amazon has and those are the ones that get paraded at design fairs for outsiders to see.

    Because of this, most designers that have stayed longer have set the bar very low. Engineering and product teams rarely hire good design leaders so they don't get understand how design can be integrated into product and development practices properly. Designers from other companies in the area whose design bar have never been very high (Expedia, Zillow, Smartsheet, Concur, RealNetworks, to name a few) are the ones who stick around and they're not setting a good example for how to execute on good design. If you care about good quality design, you'll be disappointed by how low the bar is.

    Advice to Management

    Your products' success is mainly due to price. If your designs were better you could differentiate even more and build a loyal following for reasons besides price. In order to do that you need to take design seriously at higher levels of leadership and change the company culture from being so exclusively engineering and product focused.


  9. Helpful (3)

    "Lack of collaboration. Engineering focused. Poor design standards outside of main orgs. Poor quality of life."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - User Experience Designer in Seattle, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    As a company, in many ways, Amazon is quite amazing. They've had success in multiple verticals and are continuously expanding into others. If you're working in one of those new verticals, it's exciting to see what will come out of it.

    People are getting more excited about Amazon because they are taking bigger swings (Whole Foods, online pharmacy, Twitch, etc.) from which they have a compelling foundation to build off of (e-commerce) which is different than other big tech companies. The stock has been soaring and general sentiment of financial analysts have been good. The company is continually expanding within Seattle, is opening a second HQ, and continues to grow internationally. Overall, there's always a feeling while working at Amazon that something crazy new or exciting is happening somewhere.

    Cons

    People, teams, and organizations work in silos. This is common at large companies, but the degree in which it happens at Amazon is extreme. I can count numerous examples from the different teams I've been on and worked together with in which people on the same team are completely unaware of what each other were doing. The worst example of this was two different product managers on the same team getting two different sets of engineers to accomplish the same exact large scale task. This is so engrained into the Amazon culture, that people will see situations like this, laugh it off, and accept it as normal. Many people still save design source files and Word/Excel documents to their computer and share them out via email if you know to ask. To compound this problem, Amazon is so freaking cheap that they give all employees 1 GB of email storage, which is less than basically every free email service provider in the world. Cloud-based and collaborative work processes are still foreign concepts to many in Amazon.

    Engineering is clearly more powerful than product and design, and a lot of time on both product and design teams are wasted because engineering has final says on almost everything. A lot of the existing internal tools and infrastructure at Amazon are created and designed by engineers without the end user in mind. This has been normal at Amazon for over 20 years and isn’t changing without some kind of high-level intervention. Because of that, the only teams with decent design teams and designs are in the most successful consumer facing products: the e-commerce site, devices/Lab126, Amazon Video, and Amazon Music. Don’t even bother joining other design teams if you care about making good designs. Amazon's strength is e-commerce, so they have a poor foundation for serving up digital services (communication, social, productivity, etc.) like the ones Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. have. Many digital services and products that aren't tied to the e-commerce site are inferior in engineering, product, and design.

    The quality of life at Amazon is poor compared to other companies you can work at. I haven’t seen instances as bad as the New York Times article where people are crying at their desks or screaming at each other, but there are definitely many people who are grumpy or frustrated. You are expected to bootstrap and be self-reliant. It really comes across as an excuse to do the bare minimum to support employees. Company training for new employees is half a day long, and then it all depends on what your organization and team have set up for you. If they set nothing up for you, well... you’re on your own. This would be more acceptable if more IT, support, and security staff were more helpful. Many (not all) are disgruntled with a poor attitude. However these employees are also just given the bare minimum to accomplish their jobs, so they have some right to be moody. The bootstrapping mindset, the lack of resources and support, the focus on doing more with less, and the overabundance of work has led to a culture where people don’t actively help or collaborate with one another because they have too much to deal with. Some people are genuinely nice and want to be helpful and collaborative, but they can’t because they’re too busy. Then you’re left with the jerks who don’t want to be either and don't care if they set up giant roadblocks in your way to get anything done.

    The leadership principles are celebrated by employees, but are easy to be interpreted in multiple conflicting ways, like any other cult or religion. What is deemed "right" usage of leadership principles is mostly from those most charismatic, most experienced, or most masculine. Most of Amazon's leadership posts are held by men who've been at Amazon long, so the leadership principles skew heavily toward masculine values and mindsets. Uber’s former cultural values and former CEO were heavily influenced by Amazon’s, and you can see where that got them. The frugality leadership principle gets ridiculous to a point where they will save a couple bucks, even if it means giving employees more headaches. An easy example of this is not stocking certain cables with IT or even basic supplies in the office supply rooms. Sure you might save dollars on not buying them, but if your designer, product manager, or engineer need to leave the office to buy some, you’re actually losing money. Oh and that dumb 1 GB of email storage. IT tells you to essentially adopt an OCD email management approach in order to fit into the 1 GB limit. Are you freaking kidding me?

    Advice to Management

    The culture needs to become more collaborative. Other companies are running circles around us in digital product, engineering, and design quality because we can't work together more collaboratively and more smarter in an agile manner.

    If you're serious about design being important, there needs to be a high-level Amazon leader intervening to make design known as being important across the whole company. Otherwise engineering will continue to dictate the product and design direction and the quality will stay mediocre.

    Adjust the leadership principles and loosen up on the frugality. The company just hit a market cap of $700 billion. Frugality is good but you can afford to support employees more than you do now.

    Stop hiring people straight out of MBA programs into an L6 product role. There are literally 23-year old punks with zero full-time tech industry experience getting paid and having more sway than an engineer or designer with 5-10 years of experience, just because they got a 1-year MBA right after undergrad and they BS'd their way through interviews because you got aroused at how their BS reminded you of our leadership principles.


  10. "Good company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - User Experience Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - User Experience Designer in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Amazon full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Very clear strategy and direction

    Cons

    more top down decision making, some team is extremely slow bc of AMZ legacy