The answer wasn’t hard : Apple wins
Why? Well for one thing, Apple’s site is much more organized than Microsoft’s is. I mean, practically everything from Apple is on that site. Where as Microsoft’s many properties are spread out, and hard to find. And sometime not available directly on the site – such as Office, Xbox 360, Zune, etc. Instead, you have to go to different sites for each. Rather annoying.
Plus the way Apple does it, it’s much easier to find things, notice things, and just look up info. than you could on Microsoft’s sites.
Usually, I don’t write much about Apple, but they do, do awesome things, and they should be recognized for that. (Just not everything)
So here’s a brief overview of what I like about Apple’s site, and what I hate about Microsoft’s site.
Apple’s site (what I like):
- Clean & organized – There’s not a bazillion links confronting you. Tabs right at the top of the page, to take you to a specific product they offer. Background is always white, to help bring out the colors/pictures on the site. Search box stays at the top right. Products are shown in clean grids and modules. All these things really help make the site nice and easy to read and go through.
- Consistent design – Unlike Microsoft sites, the whole UI throughout the site stays the same. The Apple tabs stay at top with the search box, extra info. links at the bottom, grids/modules in the middle, all that. It stays the same.
- Search box really works – The search box in OS X works just like Finder. Enter something in, and results show up dynamically, right on the site. For the most part, it works real well, but some searches don’t quite get through.
- Video/picture tutorials that really help – On the Apple site, you find many video tutorials (in QuickTime) and they’re quite helpful. You find many and they don’t go too fast, and narration isn’t half bad.
- Overall good experience – I feel that I can go on the Apple site, find exactly what I want, and heck, even find more, and leave without feeling flustered.
Microsoft’s site (what I hate):
- Too disorganized – You’ve got tons of links everywhere, on pages. Many being quite useless. You have to dig around to find what you’re looking for. Takes a whole lot of time to do so. No centralized products links on any of the pages (such as a big button saying Office, Xbox, etc.). Except for a small quick links at the top, which is rather dumb. Some pages offer way too much color, or too little color. Pages may look rather sloppy depending where you are. A lot of cluster of links (mainly useless news/non-related "extra" sites), and pages have sometimes too much info. (nonsense inc.) or too little info.
- No consistent design – Every Microsoft site tries its best to look as different as possible. Xbox site looks completely different from the Zune site. Office site looks different from Windows site. Navigating is very different on each site, some sites contain unique things that don’t get on other sites, etc. Some sites look really awful, others look moderately ok. Nothing real nice though. There’s just no cohesiveness at all.
- Search box is real lame – I like Live Search, but the way its implemented is annoying. Try searching, and its tough to find something. Results are not completely accurate. The results are rather bland, and hard to decipher. There’s no joy that comes from searching here. On several Microsoft sites, the search box looks completely different from good to worse
- No video/picture tutorials – None that I know of, or helps me. The videos I do see are rather lame. Sounds very unprofessional, and uses WMP, which happens to be rather bulky on websites. Videos do little to help me, and it’s a wonder who even took them, and bothered putting them on the Microsoft site. There’s not even screenshot tutorials. Or better yet, screencasts. There’s quick images, but nothing that really helps at all. Quite lame if you ask me. You would love it if Microsoft would just make things simpler?
- Ads – I see several place holding marks for ads, which is quite annoying. The ads of course link directly to other products/services from Microsoft. But that’s really annoying. The ads have little to do with what’s on the page itself, and you would think we see enough by going around your site. An extra ad is not going to bring me to look at it.
- No online store – No online store? You could count Windows Marketplace, but that’s not really the same as a centralized Microsoft store to buy products. You’ve got a ton of other company products and downloads tossed in, and you don’t see much of Microsoft’s stuff, that’s displayed out prominently enough. Just a hodgepodge of a ton of things. It’s not even on the Microsoft site. It’s just as bad as some of the other sites. More gloss than value. Heck, you can even IM a real salesperson on the Apple store!
- Too many sites – There’s way too many sites. There’s a ton of Microsoft products/services, I know, but Microsoft hasn’t figured out a way to consolidate them all into one site, make the page consistent, and make the page actually helpful? Sad, but I think Microsoft has to work on reorganizing their main site to put together all their stuff.
I just see Microsoft.com as something so stupid. I mean, Microsoft really doesn’t get the web, do they? Do they even know how to be more organized? It’s really sad to see Microsoft’s site as something that should be in the garbage.
If they could do something with the site, like I listed, maybe their site wouldn’t be that terrible. For now, Apple’s site wins tops for site design.