Homepages: Apple.com vs Microsoft.com, and why Microsoft has an image problem

In today's lesson about how NOT to design a homepage, we're going to focus on Microsoft.com.

First, go to http://apple.com. Nice, huh? Alright, now compared that to http://microsoft.com.

Now let's note some key differences:
  • Apple.com looks like it was made in 2009. Microsoft looks like it was made in 1999.
  • Apple.com is sleek. Microsoft.com is...very blue and cheesy.
  • Apple uses little color, which can be a detractor. Microsoft uses way too much color.
  • Apple's navigation highlights several core products. Microsoft tries to cover everything in the kitchen sink.
  • Apple features a single product, while Microsoft tries to promote three.
  • Apple has four small boxes to promote different things at the bottom of their homepage. Microsoft throws in random links and lists to fill up space. Oh, and a random ad.

Companies pay big bucks for usability and design reviews. But because I'm such a nice guy, I'm going to review Microsoft's homepage for them for free.

(Having trouble reading my notes? At the bottom of the image, click Download full size.)

I point all this out because I am a big fan of Microsoft. Everyday, more and more people switch their allegiance to Apple, simply because "they get it." While Microsoft makes some good products, they certainly don't go out of their way to prove it.

When I visit Microsoft.com, I should be greeted by the latest and greatest, not some website clearly assembled by a marketing department to "cover all the bases." This homepage serves no purpose, other than to make sure that everybody within Microsoft is happy that they got their little share of the homepage.

Microsoft needs a leader who can communicate with the world that they are still relevant. This homepage certainly doesn't do the company any justice.
25 responses
Apple's home page is like an eye candy. While MSFT's homepage looks like shit.
I even hate how going to:
redirects you to:

that's a gross url

Great article. I don't always agree with everything Apple does, but their design is just textbook material.

And @Paul: Yeah, Ubuntu has a nice thing going on, people accuse them of copying Apple, but I think they take lessons (something Microsoft should do) and make their own thing (not to mention the OS which is progressing more than any other).

Apple being minimalistic is news as old as the fall of the Berlin wall. Most companies don't follow this ideology and are incredibly successful. Apple's site is just eye candy; it doesn't help them in the long run.
Apple does have an amazing sense of organization and attention to detail. A lot of companies could learn from them in that aspect.

But color isn't a detractor. Otherwise, companies wouldn't invest so much in maintaining their brand logo, images and design. In fact, colors can define a company..."what can brown do for you?" Apple's gray and white is boring and soporific.

I like apple!
By Toscana - Tuscany
I think you raise some really great points. The search bar is confusing. The site is confusing.
just went through the MS website a few weeks ago and thought of the same thing...of how messy it is....totally agree with your points...
A little late with this comment, but I just wanted to say I agree with you on pretty much every point.
Also, I just went over to the Microsoft home page and found that a significant amount of the things you've pointed out seem to have been changed -- and many of them according to your suggestions.... :P

Keep up the great blogging!

Hi Cory,

You should talk about websites like www.ubuntu.com or the Mozilla website. Those 2 are really good sites!! I'm tired of Microsoft and Apple. Ubuntu and Firefox have much prettier web pages and nobody talks about them!

Let's look at free software!!

Wow Simeon, you're right. That's kinda funny!
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