SEO Test: Amazon is testing a new design – Usability or SEO?

UPDATE: Here is an article from the Sept. 5th LA Times,  looks like they have been working on it for a while.  This is the first time I’ve seen the new look.  Maybe they are officially rolling it out now?

More updates from last fall:  Amazon forums, NextWeb, Gerasini’s Posterous is seeing it

Is anyone else seeing the clear, sleek look?  This is the first I’m seeing it – maybe because I very rarely logout?

Original Post:

Imaging my surprise when I logged into Amazon tonight, it looks like Amazon may be getting ready to release a new design. The top bar is very sleek and smooth compared to the old clunky orange one.

Here is a screen shot I took with the old/clunky orange with the new sleek version over the top:

There are some very significant changes.  I tried to grab a shot of the all.

Here is a close up of the “top left” corner.  It is very clean and easy to read.  They have really went with the clean and simple look.

The “Shop by Department” is very easy to read and look like it belongs.

If you look at the “top right” you will see the account/wish list area.  Again, very clean, simple and elegant.

This is much easier to glance and understand than the old version – you can see the account drop down and also a great quick look at how many items are in the cart.

I’m not sure I understand the mid-section.  It may be a part of the beta, but when you click on these menus, they simple show you an other mini-ad.  Like the kindle one shown is an ad, then if you press the “Instant Video” button – it shifts to a screen for a particular show.

Essentially a fancy slider.

Same thing with the one down below – if you really think about it, they have stacked two content sliders on top of each other.

If you drop the “Departments” list down – it is cleaner, but familiar.  Notice how all the same items are there from before – they just get a simple “treatment”.

Inside has not changed – as of yet.  So we get a nice clean nav bar, with the same old stuff below.

Well – what do you think?  Is Amazon redesigning to push for more SEO or usability?  I guess time will tell – let me know if you see the changes too.  Please send me any screen shots and I can attach them here for comparison.