Before the ink even dried on my musings about Microsoft.com’s revolving home page, the team turned around and previewed a shiny new home page. Believe it or not, I’m actually giddy to report that this home page actually improves on the few good things the old page provided — and there’s actually some promise lurking beyond the site’s front door.
Aesthetically speaking, I can sum up the latest home page in 3 words.
- Simple | Microsoft.com has gone on a serious image and content diet. Instead of packing the page with a blizzard of small images only 3 are presented at any one time. The number of links on the page have also gone on a serious diet (not counting the fat footer)—and there isn’t a piece of content on the page longer than 1 sentence.
- Vibrant | It looks like Microsoft.com has embraced the primary color box theme with photos saturated with a matching color—and it works well. The eye bounces around the page absorbing the kaleidoscope of color throughout the page. Thumbs up.
- White Space | Vast margins of space around links, images, and text make it much easier to read the content and absorb the message. Visitors can finally see the images, find the links, and figure out what the content says.
And then there’s that mega menu
Of course no new home page is complete these days without some type of ode to the mega menu. In Microsoft’s case, simplicity can be taken too far. This new mega menu is unbalanced, boring, and as visually intriguing as a Gideon’s Bible. Oh, and then there’s one more bad thing. Once you use it, it sends you off into another Microsoft microsite that doesn’t even acknowledge the home page (much less the Microsoft.com mothership) exists.
Is there hope beyond the front door?
All the goodness (and disappointment) of the home page aside, I’m more intrigued about what this design shows beyond the front door. Microsoft might actually be pursuing (gasp!) a cohesive Website design strategy. Peek behind the “Windows”, “Windows Phone”, and “Internet Explorer” zones and you’ll see pages with very similar design elements to the home page. Simple layouts–vibrant photos—and lots of white space.
Is this a sign that Microsoft.com may someday morph into a single, cohesive site instead of a cotillion of microsites that play by their own rules? Could Microsoft.com be leaving its schizophrenic design strategy behind to create a solid visual brand? Although it’s still too soon to tell there’s no doubt that we’re seeing some green shoots that suggest this redesign might just be more than just a pretty face slapped over the same dysfunctional Website. Only time will tell.
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