I’ve never used Amazon Wishlists before but as it rolls around to my birthday soon, I figured now is the time to get that list of out of the CDs I need to fill in the gaps and replace the tapes in my collection. There’s a nice freedom in just putting together the list of things to have without buying them. Adding that one extra item will not cost you anything, and so you add it.

350 CDs, a few DVDs and miscellany later and I’m reasonably happy with what’s there, but then the questions begin. If I choose to see other CDs that Amazon recommends based on my wish list, it lists ones already there or a slightly different version of the same album (maybe a digipack version for example). Unlike the regular recommendations, I can’t click a box to say I already own a recommendation or I don’t want one. I also don't have to ignore the ones I know are already on the wish list. Where’s the shared code lads?

And then there’s the way Amazon choose to show both you and those you tell about the wish list the items within. The items are sorted by either the date added (newest first) or by the price of the items within (cheapest first). Now first off, why can’t I reverse the order these viewing options are given in? Shouldn’t be too difficult. SQL has these nice ASC and DESC keywords for the SELECT statement.

And now the biggie. If I choose to look through the list, I can’t sort by type of item, or in the case of music, who the music is by, or the genre of music. I can’t even sort by the price of used items because I’m not given the option to buy used versions of the items I want. Until of course, I find the link that says view used items, and then the items are grouped into types of items but cannot be sorted at all within those categories even by price or date added. Indeed, the items seem to be in some sort of random order as laid down by Amazon. (Number of used items available perhaps?) Now if I log in as someone else and view the wish list, I can’t view used items at all, can’t sort items grouped into category and have just the price, last updated and date added options to sort through the list. How frustrating is that for the user? Why not even something as simple as sort through the list in alphabetical order?

So what gives Amazon? Why, when your recommendations and general item search facilities are so great are they so evidently lacking when it comes to helping us choose something from a person’s wish list? Do you suppose that anyone who wants a usable wish list will be able to use your web services and create one themselves? I think not.