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Amazon Holiday Styleguide

Amazon 2011 Holiday Styleguides




Acting as art director I was in charge of working with other designers across the larger design team to create Amazon's global styleguides for seasonal and holiday promotions. One of the big challenges in creating this Christmas styleguide was the combination of making it scalable on a global level while continuing in the then current vein of a more abstract and esthetic approach to the Amazon's illustration style. 


The final direction was successful on many levels. It evoked the feeling of the Christmas season without being too intrusive and distracting to the overall customer experience. It was easily adapted and used across all of Amazon's global locales. And by creating three similar but distinguishable styleguides (Christmas, Winter and Wishlist), the possibility of customers shopping experience being distracted by a wide variety of illustration styles was eliminated.


Art Direction, Visual Design

The design process started with a word association exercise to establish a general direction we wanted to take for the project. I made it a point to make sure the words we chose correlated with Amazon's core competencies to make sure the project correlated with the goals of the overarching shopping experience.


I had been pushing the envelope of the styleguides for earlier seasons and events by focusing on a more abstract and representational solution. The goal of of this approach was to create elements that were more integrated into the design of finished pieces while evoking the feeling of a particular season or event, as opposed to just showing iconic items that were often used before.


To attain the whimsical and elegant approach we researched examples of various Christmas decorations from different time periods that evoke the sentiments we were aiming for.


To further emphasize the holiday feel we chose a typeface that both fit the style we were going for as well as worked well with Amazon's main typeface (Helvetica Neue) used in promotional graphics. Again, exploring a wide range of samples helped us narrow down our options and finally hone in one to be implemented.


We tested varying illustration styles with text an images to see how the illustrations actually worked in context. This allowed us to fine tune the amount of detail that was going into the illustrations to make sure they didn't overpower the images and text. 


Once a final treatment was established we build out a simple styleguide to showcase how the different elements and colors could be used in a variety of Amazon's standard graphic sizes.

Since Amazon's promotional graphics span a very large array of content we created some example graphics of how the styleguide can be applied base on the complexity of the content given. With no images there is more room for larger text and the supporting illustrations. As images and more images are introduced the illustrations have to be toned back to avoid cluttering the content.

Working with some of the designers on our EU team I had them use the styleguide to create some sample graphics to verify the styleguide can be used in Amazon's European locales.


At this time, Amazon was transitioning to its new global navigation design and this holiday styleguide was the first to be used on with the new design. To ensure the styleguide was flexible enough we created a comp of the new homepage design and included the styleguide elements.


Because there are sales that aren't Christmas specific, but more Winter specific, a styleguide for Winter had to be created. Since this styleguide could occupy the same screen as the Christmas styleguide, the two couldn't be too disparate from each other. The Winter styleguide utilize the same typeface and illustration styles with just a change in one of the two colors.


Amazon's annual Wishlist Wish & Win promotion also runs during the winter and also needed a styleguide to coincide with the Christmas and Winter styleguides. The goal of these three styleguides was to create enough separation between promotion types while still creating a cohesive and elegant customer experience.