It’s natural to look at the biggest, most successful organizations for design inspiration, after all, they must be doing something right to have become so successful.
But copying a well-known company’s design isn’t always a recipe for your own success. First of all, user experience is all about context, which includes factors like brand market share, industry norms and the user’s history with your company. It’s true that people’s general expectations about things like response times and search accuracy are shaped by the websites and services that they use frequently. But when it comes to specific design features, something that works well for a giant consumer e-commerce company is not necessarily going to work the same way for a smaller retailer, much less a totally different industry like business to business, sales or insurance.
The big companies design likely assumes that people already know and trust their brand and need the ability to find one specific product out of millions. If your audience doesn’t already know your brand and needs to learn about and choose between just a few products, that’s a totally different design problem requiring a totally different solution. The other big reason to be cautious about just copying a famous company’s design is nobody’s perfect. And even big companies sometimes make mistakes. They sometimes release features that weren’t carefully tested and don’t actually work that well. A lot of leading companies also deliberately experiment with features that they know are risky with the intention of removing them.
If they don’t work out. Just because a design is in use by a famous company doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good and you should copy it. A big company may sometimes have a bad feature as part of their product for years and may not even notice the effect because their strong brand and customer loyalty outweigh any negative consequences. But smaller companies can’t assume that users will stick with them, even if their designs are hard to use. So by all means, look around at well-known designs to get ideas. But before you go out and build them into your design, consider whether they really fit your context and test them to make sure that they work the way you expect them to.