I recently went into Amazon.com to purchase a few books, and once I was done, I browsed around and ended up in a page where there was no Logout button! Hmm, was this a bug or a feature? After a bit of poking around, I found the 'logout' button masquerading as something else ("if you are not John Doe, click here" thingy). And, this button does not appear on all pages.
This got me thinking. Login/logout are buttons that are ubiquitous to all web sites that need authentication. Maybe, Amazon.com has an innovative way of changing this paradigm...
Why would one need a login button in the first place?
Web sites need a login button in order to let you perform transactions that are unique to you. In this case, you login to Amazon.com to buy something, and they want to know who you are and where to ship the stuff. If not for this login facility, you would have to enter all this information everytime you bought anything from Amazon. Makes sense. Also, without logging in, there is no personalization.
Why would one need a logout button?
Hmm. In this world of tracking every move that a consumer makes, almost everyone is paranoid about leaving traces of activity around. Especially if one is using a public computer. I, for one, am used to logging out of sites and clearing my cache whenever I complete any transaction that needs personal information. I do this even on my personal computer. I would be extra careful if I am using a public computer.
Logging out prevents others from masquerading as you and conducting transactions in your name. Logging out prevents thieves from stealing your personal information. Logging out stops the tracking of the user's actions.
So, what is Amazon trying to achieve by hiding the logout button? It is not intuitive to figure out the way to log out of Amazon.com.
And, there is the other extreme where some sites ask you to confirm that you really want to log out. LinkedIn is one such example.
So, I feel Amazon.com is regressing in its UI rather than coming up with something that is fresh and innovative.