eBay Search Results Still Disappoint

Posted By Debbie on March 19, 2015

Categories: UX/UI

Tags: eBay, eCommerce, search results

In April 2011, I had a conversation with eBay about why users were “pogo sticking,” as they called it. People search, get results, go into an item, and less than 2 seconds later they leave that item and go back to search results… only to do it all again.

As a UX chick and eBay expert, this was obvious to me. Not sure why eBay couldn’t figure this out and was at a conference telling the audience they couldn’t figure this out.

When I discussed this with eBay staff, they told me they THINK that what people want to see is the name of the seller’s eBay Store. That must be what they are popping in to see. I told them I had to get off the phone to cry, and would send them some wireframes later.

I later sent them some really rough wireframes and some notes. I explained that what potential buyers really want to know is:

  1. What is this? Or is this what I think it is? And is it in the condition I expect it to be in?
  2. When will I get it? Or if I’m not logged in and you don’t know where I am, how fast does the seller ship it and HOW does the seller ship it? If you tell me a seller ships it within 2 days UPS 2 day, I have a good idea when I will get it.
  3. What’s the return policy? I don’t need all the steps. Can I return it or is this a final sale?

From there, it’s just details and nuances, especially in the conditions of used or refurbished items.

I won’t tell you how that conversation ended. I’ll just say let’s fast forward 4 years to see what search results look like now. Click to enlarge.

ScreenHunter_264 Mar. 15 19.04

They look pretty much the same as when I last took a look 4 years ago.

I guess the good news is that eBay didn’t clutter it up by adding the seller’s eBay Store name. Because nobody cares what they named their store.

Let’s put our UX hats on and take a look at what a user can do here. I’ll pretend I’m new to eBay but I’m interested in this item. I searched for it. I found this one.

What information is easily discoverable about it? The price, shipping is free, how many people are watching it, and the fact that the seller might take a lower offer (“Best Offer”).

I also see the seller’s name, feedback, positive feedback percentage (though you’re not told what the 100% means… you are just supposed to KNOW that’s the percentage of positive feedbacks), that they are Top Rated Plus (I don’t know what that means), and they take PayPal (assuming you recognize the PP logo). I can zoom in on the picture.

I don’t know how quickly the seller will ship or how the seller ships it. I don’t know what condition it’s in. New? Used?

Let’s say I know that this is a very rare item and I’m ready to buy it right now. Where is that “Buy It Now” call to action button? Or if the seller will let you negotiate, where is the “Make An Offer” button for the Best Offer process?

What is the call to action here? I can’t really DO anything here other than click on the title to get to the detail page.


1) How sad that 4 years later, eBay seems to have made no progress in improving the UX of search results. I still lack some key information, there’s no real CTA, and I still have to click into the item detail page to learn what I wanted to learn. I’m under the impression there is a Product Manager just for this page. What is that person working on these last few years?

2) That means eBay is probably still seeing “pogo-sticking,” even 4 years after publicly complaining about it at the Product Camp event.

3) eBay is a site for people who already know how to use eBay. New sellers don’t get a good explanation of the rules or best practices. New shoppers aren’t told what logos and numbers mean. eBay just assumes you know what these mean (or you don’t care).

4) eBay hasn’t graduated to looking and feeling more like what shoppers are used to on eCommerce websites. While eBay may not really need an “add to cart” button because you’re bidding or “buying it now,” eBay’s interfaces should lean on what is familiar to shoppers as often as possible. That doesn’t mean ripping off Amazon. That won’t help you because Amazon doesn’t have “add to cart” buttons either. They want to first show you options.

eBay UXers should ask what they can do… wait a minute. That should have happened years ago. That should have happened before a guy is presenting at a conference saying that eBay has no idea why people bounce in and out of search results. So much should have happened so long ago (and so many times over for the best possible UX). What a shame that eBay has become a place most of us rarely or never go. I believe it’s too late for them to redeem themselves.

What can I expect search results will look like 2 years from now? Same?