Apple vs Microsoft – Web Usability.


Microsoft vs AppleI recently found a site via a colleague today, which basically outlines the way in which we approach our customers/consumers via the web compared to Apple.com

[ Click here to view the post ]

At first I just simply groaned, and waited for the beating, as I know internally I’ve moaned about our approach, so i was expecting to see us slaughtered in a pro-Apple fashion. The Author however, did approach the post from an unbiased perspective in my opinion, and i don’t see anything outrageous about the post (other than the stupidity in the comments in parts).

I happen to agree with the majority of the points and have arrived in many ways at similar conclusions to the author.

For me, I recently (early this month) took ownership of our Microsoft.com/Silverlight site (specifically the User Experience) and it’s a site I’ve agonized over for weeks on how to fix. The current version of the site is not one we as a team are content or happy with. We can do better, and we will, but its posts like this that help me navigate the best approach with regards to user experience and information architecture.

Silverlight is one of these products that we are keen to simplify more in terms of understanding of what it is, why its important you invest in and lastly what the possibilities are in using it.

Keep it Simple, Don’t make me think – are the mantra for my next version of the site and it was blog posts like the one mentioned that simply help.

I love this kind of open raw feedback, we need to see more of it.

Send me your vision of how we should build Microsoft.com 2.0, i.e. what is it we can do better, what we aren’t doing, lets paint a vision of the future? If you feel in the mood to redesign the sites and want to pitch your design to that team, PLEASE DO SO.. I will walk your pitch to the team(s) myself personally.

Comments (5)

  1. Paul Stovell says:

    One thing from the article that struck a chord with me:

    "It’s really an ecosystem of websites hosted under the same domain and therefore it doesn’t get the benefit of consistency that Apple has. The brand image is also terribly fragmented making it impossible to define what a Microsoft site looks like."

    It’s not so much that the individual pages or areas are bad, it’s that there is a lot of inconsistency across the site that often makes me feel overwhelmed. If you have ownership over the look and feel of the Silverlight site, and assuming the people from other divisions have the same ownership over their sites, then I guess I can see how this comes about.

    The Apple sites suggest to me that behind the scenes, the owner of a specific area would get his butt kicked if he decided to deviate at all from the standard Apple design 🙂

  2. Peter Loebel says:

    Keep it Simple, Don’t make me think. I love your statement.

    It’s sounds so ease, but ….

    Regards

    peter

  3. Garry Trinder says:

    Paul,

    I agree with you.  I think if someone from the iPhone team wants to go off and create their own sub-microsite, i’m confiden they would be meet with a swift – "there’s the door".

    A centralized approach for outward site would be optimial, as then the team(s) in question have clear definitive guidelines and also we as a company are able to do a more uniform qualitiative analysis on end user behavior.

    However, given the political environment within the company and no one division really owns the entire site(s) i honestly don’t see a realistic reform.

    Unless, more people like yourself speakup about being overwhelmed. I’ve not seen any feedback regarding this type of emotion yet, so it concerns me and something i’ll raise internally.  What I do find strange, is that if a smart guy (argueably one of the smartest .net devs in Australia) is "overwhelmed", then what the heck are we doing?

    Time to fire up some internal emails

  4. Tom Resing says:

    I second Paul’s feelings. I’m sure this has been brought up before. I’ve been using microsoft.com for a long and it’s been like this from the beginning. Everyone recognizes the value of the information that is contained on the site, but the term "Google Microsoft" seems pretty common place when trying to find a KB article, API doc or Technet guide. Bring some order to the chaos, please.

  5. ludovic says:

    Maybe a way to simplify the Microsoft website would be to actually split it in several sections: business, consumer, etc. I’m not sure of the implications of such a selection splash screen on a website but it’s not unheard of (and is quite common in Canada where you need to pick your language).

    You could also default to the "consumer" website and have a link to the business website in the main menu.

    Apple also has a company-wide graphical identity that Microsoft lacks — and it may not even be a good idea for Microsoft to have that given its size…. but still, some things are possible: e.g. product logos (Surface, Silverlight, etc.) have lately been harmonized. Maybe this initiative can be pushed more.