Amazon Explore:

Elevating Customer Satisfaction by Prioritizing the Guide's Experience


Amazon Explore was a trailblazing virtual tour platform that offered customers personalized and expert-led experiences. I was lucky enough to serve as a UX Designer on the special projects team and contribute to the development of this innovative platform.

Problem Statement

Although Amazon Explore employed cutting-edge technology, early users weren't fully engaged and gave low customer satisfaction scores. Babak Parviz, the head of the organization, recognized that customer satisfaction was the most critical measure of success. Customers wanted an enjoyable and worthwhile tour experience, but the awkwardness of directing the guide and the emphasis on finding digital content prompts detracted from the overall experience. The challenge was to design a solution that would address these issues and enhance customer satisfaction with Amazon Explore.

Usability testing pic 1Usability testing pic 2Early design concept for the explorer's UI - shows how a big part of the experience was searching for waypoint markers.Early design concept for the explorer's UI - shows how waypoint markers looked when inactive.Early design concept for the explorer's UI - shows how waypoint markers looked when triggered.


A more guide-led tour experience that enabled guides to effectively integrate digital content into their presentations would result in a more enjoyable and seamless customer experience.

Validating My Hypothesis

To validate my hypothesis, I analyzed customer reviews of real-world tour experiences on Tripadvisor. The majority of 5-star reviews highlighted the entertaining and engaging nature of the tour guide, while many of 1-2-star reviews criticized the poor performance of the guides. This data clearly showed the significance of the guide experience in determining customer satisfaction and confirmed that the quality of the guide was a critical factor.

Diving Deep

To emphasize the importance of the guide experience and steer the team towards developing more guide-centric features, I organized a user journey mapping workshop for the team. During the workshop, the team was split into small groups and tasked with considering the end-to-end user experience. The exercise quickly illuminated the significance of the guide experience, which led to increased support from leadership and additional resources being allocated towards its development.

Outline for journey mapping workshopWorkshop is well underway and everyone is busy.User personasInsights gathered about the explorer experience.Insights gathered about the guide experience.

We joined forces with the masterminds behind Seattle Duck Tours, a highly regarded tour company, and I ran interviews that gathered valuable insights into the secret of their successful business model: The owners rescued the company from bankruptcy and skyrocketed to become Seattle's top tour company by putting their guides first, instead of solely focusing on crafting entertaining tour scripts for their customers. I facilitated workshops with the specialists to delve deeper into comprehending the requirements of the guides, which yielded insights that proved to be a crucial factor in defining our requirements for the guide experience.

Affinity mapping exerciseCognitive mapping exerciseOrganizing our thoughtsIdentifying and prioritizing guides' needsNecessary tech features for the guide experience

With the goal of refining and perfecting the Amazon Explore platform, the team set out to develop a scripted prototype tour experience of Seattle's Pike Place Market. Testing was a top priority, with the team conducting 6-12 tours per week to assess and improve the user experience. In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the platform's strengths and weaknesses, I personally took the tour as a customer and regularly walked alongside the guides, observing their experience off-camera.

Applying What Was Learned

Drawing upon these observations and direct feedback from the guides, I was able to quickly iterate on user-flows, wireframes, and interactive prototypes, further advancing the experience through rapid usability testing. 

One key insight we gained from early testing was how important the camera’s viewport was to our guides. As a result, the interface was reoriented from portrait to landscape to dedicate more screen real estate to the viewport.

It also became evident that, during tour sessions, guides were getting overwhelmed with all the tasks and responsibilities they had to manage. By replacing all the copy in the UI with intuitive icons, guides reported finding the experience much easier to navigate. This change relieved them a bit from the excessive cognitive load they were taking on during tours and helped them focus more on engaging with their customer(s).

Guide UI - sketched layoutGuide UI - rough wireframes

The Results

The guides praised the interface for its ease of use and efficiency. With every iteration, user satisfaction scores rose higher and higher, passing every executive-level evaluation with flying colors.

Guide's Dashboard
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard
Equipment Connect/Disconnect Flow:
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard: Showing guide not connected to guide gear.
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard: Guide gear selector.
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard: Connecting to guide gear.
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard: Confirmation of successful guide gear connection.
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard: Guide gear connected.
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard: Daily schedule opened.
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard: Main menu opened.
Screenshot of Guide Dashboard: Confirmation that guide wants to disconnect from guide gear.
Guide's In-Tour UI
Screenshot of "In-Tour" Guide UI
Guide's In-Tour Purchase Flow:
Introducing Amazon Explore

When Amazon finally launched the platform to the public in September 2020 with 86 experiences across 16 countries, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Customers and critics alike raved about the Amazon Explore experience, recognizing it as a ground-breaking virtual tour platform that was going to set the bar for personalized, immersive, and expert-led experiences. It was a testament to the team's tireless efforts and my unwavering commitment to delivering the best possible experience to both the guide and the end-user.

Web Review: Tourprenur - To show you an 80-year-old historical photo of the same spot you’re looking at live on-screen; or a slide of color palettes from which to choose your preferences. These overlays, enabled by Amazon’s technology, added to the interactivity and uniqueness of the experience.  Speaking of interactivity, when it comes to the quality of any experience, virtual or in-person, the guide’s level of engagement with their guests truly distinguishes good from great.  All our pros had nothing but high praise for their guides, so Amazon must have vetted them wisely. It was obvious that these guides were seasoned professionals – people who made good eye contact and who worked to develop a rapport with their guests in a very short period of time.Web Review: Insider - Overall, I found the Amazon virtual experiences I tried to be superior to other online travel options I've tried. From the unique interactive platform to the personal, one-on-one interactions to the real-time shopping options, these virtual offerings truly stand out in a crowded field.  I'm guessing that when Amazon Explore comes out of beta there will be a dual video option, which would be very helpful.   Still, I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the Amazon Explore programming and the tech which delivered it to my home.Web Review: BuzzFeed - Wow, I Actually Have Plans This Weekend Thanks To Amazon Explore


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