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Comparing Microsoft and Apple Websites' Usability 314

Posted by timothy
from the you-cannot-serve-381-masters dept.
An anonymous reader writes 'In the article entitled Apple vs. Microsoft — A Website Usability Study, Dmitry Fadeyev, co-founder of Pixelshell, compares Apple's and Microsoft's web sites from a usability perspective, and Apple is the winner. Scott Barnes, PM at Microsoft, agrees with him and suggests the problem is because various site sub-domains have different management.'
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Comparing Microsoft and Apple Websites' Usability

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  • Backwater sections (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DavidR1991 (1047748) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @04:53PM (#29371503) Homepage

    Although I agree about the consistency of Apple's site being better in general, both of the site have some pretty horrible out of date 'backwater' regions. If I recall, quite a few of the Apple developer pages have completely inconsistent theming and styles (shadowed text on aqua buttons circa pre-10.4 etc.) and MS's hardware pages with the red top banner are rather crudely squished into the current style on some pages

    But I suppose style != usability so this may not have been considered

    • I'd like to see links for reference. I've been on a lot of developer pages and Im not sure that I know what you're talking about. I know this isn't wikipedia but [citation needed]
  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @04:54PM (#29371535)

    Fadeyev remarks that Apple has remained consistent in their approach for many years and uses the home page as an âoeadvertising boardâ. The âoemain ad at the top is hugeâ while the rest of the page has just a few items and lacks any content âoemaking the decision of where to go next easierâ.

    Yet, later on, Tim Anderson criticizes Microsoft, saying it's too hard to get past all the marketing. So Apple gets brownie points for having an advertising-board-style main page with little content, and Microsoft gets dinged for having too much marketing and too little content. Hm.

    To me, the entire article strikes me as having been written this way: Apple's site is better than Microsoft's. I wonder why?

    • by businessnerd (1009815) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:39PM (#29372107)

      You missed some important differentiating details about those ads and amount of content. Apple has only one ad and it is very clear. There is a specific call to action (sign up) and additional points on why this action should be taken. The remaining content, while there isn't much of it, is clearly displayed and is inviting. Microsoft's, on the other hand, had multiple ads, but two of which you couldn't see without user interaction. The content below was too busy and too boring (just small text links), which makes the user ask, "Why should I bother reading through these links, let alone click on one of them?". It's not about an Ad:Content ratio, it's about how the ads/content are displayed and what is expected of the user. I recently worked on a project that involved a lot of web page design from a wireframing/layout perspective (rather than the "ooh shiny!" perspective). What I learned from this experience is that you need to be very clear on what you expect the user to do upon visiting the site. That usually means keeping it simple. If the user is unsure what they are suppose to do or every feel lost or like the information they need is not at this site or on this page, you've lost them. I've used Microfts site from time to time and it's always a horrible experience. Something I was thinking about today when I was on their MSDN site. I always find it impossible to find what I need. With msdn.com I've figured out where I need to go by now, but the first few times were painful. I want to find where to download MS software and product keys (for example, a copy of Windows 7), so the first thing I do is click on the big "Downloads" menu. Bzzzt! Wrong! To download software, I don't go to the main downloads page I go to a separate link found in my account information box all the way over on the right side of the page. Even just finding normal free consumer software from their main microsoft.com page is impossible to find. When you think you found where the download link is, you are hit with marketing crap, but no link to download. I always have to do a search to find it. User's don't want to search, they want to browse.

    • by rawr_one (1474675) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:45PM (#29372213) Homepage

      You're misunderstanding what Tim Anderson wrote. He said that it was hard to get past all of the marketing blather, which is an entirely different thing. He's saying that it's hard to find information in the sea of advertising-speak that Microsoft's website heaps upon you (as opposed to plain, useful information), not that it is hard to navigate because they advertise.

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @06:16PM (#29372603)

      Yet, later on, Tim Anderson criticizes Microsoft, saying it's too hard to get past all the marketing.

      Apple's design is consistent, with the one ad, and main menu items to get you where you want. MS has pop-ups on numerous pages that get in the way when you try to actually go places. That's a usability problem. You do know this is a usability study, right?

      So Apple gets brownie points for having an advertising-board-style main page with little content, and Microsoft gets dinged for having too much marketing and too little content.

      No, Apple gets points for having consistent main headings that are easy to understand, while MS's are inconsistent categorizations and overlap confusing the user. If I want to know about Excel to I go to "Windows and Office" or "All Products" or will both get me there? What if I want support on it? Do I go to "Support" or one of the previous two?

      To me, the entire article strikes me as having been written this way: Apple's site is better than Microsoft's. I wonder why?

      Because Apple hires and listens to usability experts for the Web while MS listens to each department head for a given area first, then tries to get usability people to make it "OK" after. It's not like this is surprising or new though. Anyone who has ever taken a course or read books on usability sees MS UI's as examples of what not to do or "common mistakes". MS has never been serious about usability testing for whatever reason.

  • That's wonderful that you agree, Mr. Barnes. Why don't you do something about it? What's that, you say? "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"? Of course! How could I possibly be so naive to think that customer service and ease of website use should come before company politics? Silly me.
  • by eXlin (1634545) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @04:57PM (#29371579)
    I agree, but we need to remember that Microsoft's site is mutch larger than Apples. Small sites are always easier to keep in way that navigating between sites are easier and you always find site you are looking for.
  • by dprovine (140134) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:00PM (#29371629)

    Apple's detractors consider the company to be a bunch of control freaks, which is true, but that's exactly why their user interfaces are so consistent and usability is so high. Their mania for controlling every aspect of the user's experience has an upside and a downside. That the company that's so driven for consistency on the App Store also has a consistent website should hardly be astonishing.

    As for Microsoft's website, the company's main product has a number of different interfaces for different things, when there's no sensible reason for it to be different (Office uses the Ribbon, but Internet Explorer doesn't, to take one example). That the company whose main product has a number of different and confusing elements has a similar website is also not astonishing. A finished system's structure tends to mimic the structure of the group that produced it. Read about the Windows Shutdown Crapfest [blogspot.com] and think about the implications for their website.

    • Just for argument's sake, the critique of what the "turn off" button should have been is ridiculous. There should only be one "off" button? Basically, he assumes a ton... like you don't want to have to choose between power off, log off, and sleep... that you shouldn't have to choose between sleep and hibernate... etc.

      My desktop computer presumably has the ability to sleep and hibernate but due to some weird BIOS stuff, it doesn't work well. In fact, it messes up the BIOS systems. I'm sure glad I'm able

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vertinox (846076)

        There should only be one "off" button?

        Yes, because any more buttons and the average consumer gets confused. ...

        That said feature anemia is preferred to many over feature creep simply because even if you try to please everyone with all the possible features you are going to confuse and upset the majority of your users when that causes usability problems or in the case of many of Microsoft's projects... "unintended features" ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jim_v2000 (818799)
          I'm sick of the argument that less features are better because the computationally impaired people get confused by too many options. If they get confounded by a few well placed buttons (we're not talking about dozens of check boxes and buttons randomly all over the place), fuck them. Let them go use paper and a pen. I like my options, and they don't confuse me or anyone else who can spare a few neurons to learn a ui.
      • by dprovine (140134)

        I'm willing to go for more than just one option when you go: it seems to me that the two obvious hardware things are (1) close laptop (sleep), and (2) hit button (turn off). So the menu should give you those two choices, along with "restart" and "log out". Still, that's only 4 menu items. And I see no reason at all to include a software shutdown button which looks like the physical shutdown button on the laptop. Even if we want "lock" on the menu, I don't see why it needs a button either.

    • by chaim79 (898507)

      A finished system's structure tends to mimic the structure of the group that produced it. Read about the Windows Shutdown Crapfest [blogspot.com] and think about the implications for their website.

      Actually I am thinking about the implications about the product... if you check out this comment [blogspot.com] on that article which explains the reason behind the source control structure, they are controlling a symptom of the problem not the problem. No wonder MS products are so unstable and vulnerable, with wild dependencies going all over the place, only found out months after things are broken, I'm with other commenters and I wonder how they ever released a product at all!

    • by Draek (916851)

      Apple's detractors consider the company to be a bunch of control freaks, which is true, but that's exactly why their user interfaces are so consistent and usability is so high. Their mania for controlling every aspect of the user's experience has an upside and a downside.

      And the downside lies clearly in usefulness. The problem of Apple's website is that, in maintaining cleanliness and consistency, they sacrificed the actual *information* on their webpages, besides their self-serving marketing.

      No, Microsoft's isn't any better, as it somehow manages to be both cluttered *and* useless at the same time. But a website that's both consistent, usable, and most importantly *useful* is that of IBM, in particular DeveloperWorks [ibm.com]. Of course, that's probably a result of both having comp

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:05PM (#29371691)

    1. The writing on their guides is uniformly attrocious. If I want to learn how to do something, I never follow the Microsoft link but always go to the non-MS ones. They are usually concise and useful.
    2. Most of the Microsoft links are broken anyway. It seems like they completely reshuffle their site organization every three months. Any link older than that will inevitably be broken.

    • by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:15PM (#29371857) Journal
      2. Most of the Microsoft links are broken anyway. It seems like they completely reshuffle their site organization every three months. Any link older than that will inevitably be broken.

      This issue seems to be getting worse as time goes on. I had grown used to finding the occasional reference to a knowledge base article from a third party site or article to be broken. It seems like over the last year, I've found internal links on their site that are broken. For example, there might be a TechNet article that points to a knowledge base article, and that link is broken.

      Microsoft's site is pretty horrible. Their knowledge base is atrocious. If I had to make a wild ass guess, I'd say that I can actually find the solution to my Microsoft related problem by using their support tools only about 25% of the time. For the longest time until Microsoft shut Google out of their site, Google was my preferred search tool for microsoft.com related material. If it weren't for the huge numbers of people using and supporting Microsoft software, they would have gone under from a lack of support. Any other company out there that put out a product that is so hard to support and resolve issues with would go out of business. Microsoft gets a pass because so many people are stuck with the crap that we don't have any other choice but to find ways to make it work. I think it's an almost conscious decision intended to drive people to their PAID support offerings. The two or three times in the last ten plus years that I've actually had to call Microsoft for support, they resolved the issue. One time they even refunded the cost of the support call because the issue turned out to be a bug with their software. On that time they had a hot fix coded and available for me in less than 24 hours.

      • by aztracker1 (702135) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:57PM (#29372401) Homepage

        Their "free" support options, being their general and KB website articles, and their newsgroups are pretty hard to get through. Finding anything not driven by a search or external link into their site on their site is nearly impossible, and most of their newsgroups are too busy to actually keep up with. Their paid support is pretty top notch, but it's more expensive to have a handful of issues with them than to get a support contract with Oracle, RedHat or Novell for Linux.

        The real annoying thing is they don't have a 301 permanent redirect module setup with their CDN. If a KB article's link moves, then point to it.. if it's outdated, point to the relevant article... I'm really tired of having nothing but trouble re-finding something from 3+ months ago.

        • by dave562 (969951)
          Their newsgroups are frustrating. It seems like they've re-designed their "Community" page a half dozen times in the last two years. Depending on which route through the site you take to get there, you will end up with a different list of newsgroups. Of course doing the logical thing and searching the site for "newsgroups" returns absolutely nothing of value. About the only saving grace for their newsgroups has been the ability to subscribe to your posts. I had to ask a question about terminal services
  • ... to maintain a website with more sub-domains and more information. It seems obvious to me that the Microsoft site in general is just gi-normous ... therefore they have trouble epsecially with consistency. Apple just doesn't have as many things on their sites, and rightfully so considering Microsoft is a global giant, therefore the Apple employees have more time to sit around and play with the look and feel and user friendliness of a website. imho
    • The scale of Microsoft's sites exacerbates the problem, but it's not the cause. I don't think Microsoft has ever had a standard look and feel across all of its sites. They just don't make unifying the look and feel a priority. It's completely doable but it's time consuming and time is money. Obviously there is either no top-down direction for site look and feel or if there is, it's got no teeth. The individual divisions all do their own thing. The total lack of consistency is evidence of that. Consistency d
    • Re:It is harder ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:44PM (#29372201)

      ... to maintain a website with more sub-domains and more information. It seems obvious to me that the Microsoft site in general is just gi-normous ... therefore they have trouble epsecially with consistency. Apple just doesn't have as many things on their sites, and rightfully so considering Microsoft is a global giant, therefore the Apple employees have more time to sit around and play with the look and feel and user friendliness of a website. imho

      True, Apple's site does have fewer things, but it's not because Apple has fewer products. Apple's site has three decades worth of hardware and software documentation on it. The Apple site still has manuals and system software for Apple II series machines, if you go looking for it.

      The illusion that the MS site has "more stuff" is partly a result of poor organization, and partly a result of Microsoft's tendency to release a half dozen different "editions" of a product when one would do fine.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mdwh2 (535323)

        Apple's site has three decades worth of hardware and software documentation on it. The Apple site still has manuals and system software for Apple II series machines, if you go looking for it.

        Are all these things findable from direct links? And that doesn't negate the point - just because a company's been around for as long, doesn't mean it has as many products on its website.

        Even using their search, the UI is so bad I can't find, e.g., downloads for System 7 (is it in products, or downloads?)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jim_v2000 (818799)
        "Apple's site does have fewer things, but it's not because Apple has fewer products."

        Bullshit. Apple has far few products that Microsoft. Especially if you discount old, discontinued stuff.

        Microsoft: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Microsoft_software_applications [wikipedia.org]
        Apple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc.#Current_products [wikipedia.org]

        (The formatting is a bit different, but you can tell that MS has a lot more products.)
  • Its an opinion piece. A well written one and I've no problem with the content but lets call a spade a spade please.

  • No brainer... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 7Prime (871679) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:08PM (#29371737) Homepage Journal

    Apple's website is often considered one of the most consitant and well constructed sites on the internet. Microsoft has done a pretty good job, but considering what they're up against, they should be proud to even be in the same sentance (as far as websites are concerned). Apple's unifomity and consistancy in their webdesign is nothing except extroardinary. It's so consistant that sometimes it takes me a second to realize which part of the website I'm at. This is not really a bad thing in an age where with most websites, you have to spend 30 seconds relearning the navigation system for every page. Apple really's design really breathes, with no clutters of information, and everything segrigated to very intuitive regions. In the end, grayscale color schemes ALMOST always win out. After months of use, colors always eventually get irritating, high contrasts lose their "cool" factor, and you're left feeling like your looking at a candy wrapper. OSs and websites should almost always revolve around neutral colors, because you're never sure what's going to clash horribly, or become illegible with the design. That said, I don't think Microsoft has really broken those rules, their low contrast blue is quite appealing... very MacOS Aqua-like, actually... but once again, they're not very consistant with it. Just one page in, "Windows 7" and you're faced with an ugly green stripe across the center of the page that looks horribly out of place next to the wispy blue. Microsoft REALLY needs to work on their color scheme consistancy. They have virtually no universal branding.

  • MS vs. Apple? (Score:3, Informative)

    by CptChipJew (301983) <michaelmiller@gm ... l.com minus city> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:08PM (#29371741) Homepage Journal
    If anyone should be heavily criticized for a poorly organized web presence, it's IBM.
  • by klubar (591384) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:09PM (#29371767) Homepage
    It's harder for companies with a broad product line and wide audience to control web consistency. Companies that have a huge range of markets or products--managed by different product/regional groups--frequently have a problem presenting a unified look to their web site

    Consider the case of GE--the website for consumer appliances should be very different than that of jet engines and that of financial services -- all GE products.

    Apple has the advantage of a very limited product line; a mini desktop, a pro desktop and a couple of laptops, a phone, a couple of applications, an OS and a music player. Their target audience is 98% consumers.

    This is a much simplier case than Microsoft which sell a product range from an OS, search, hardware, games, low-end serves, high-end servers, a wide range of applications (from consumer to heavy-duty data centers). It's target market is primarily businesses, but ranges from micro business to enterprise, but also includes a significant consumer audience.

    It's too bad the reviewer didn't consider content or target audiences.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 7Prime (871679)

      I disagree that Microsoft has a larger range of products than Apple. They may have larger install bases, they may come in more flavors, but for every product that Microsoft has, there is almost always virtually an Apple product that matches up. A website is about marketing and support, of which both companies have to do with all their products. iWork has to have just as good support as Office does. XServe has to have just as good marketing and support as Microsoft's server software. It's the ability of a co

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Shados (741919)

        While i agree with the rest of your point, Microsoft DEFINATELY has a -significantly- broader range of product than Apple. I'm not familiar with 100% of Apple's offering, so I'm sure you'll be able to prove me wrong on some of these (in which case I'd want to know, since having more products to compare is always a good thign), but what is Apple's equivalent product in the following category?

        Content Management
        Intranet/portal
        Robotics development
        Bare metal hypervisor, as well as desktop virtual machines
        Game Co

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dunkelfalke (91624)

        So?
        Then please name an ERP software made by Apple.
        Or maybe an SQL server? A geographic information system then? A CRM solution maybe?

        And, since you are so sure that there is no difference between a business user and a home user, please explain to me why a home user would need some CRM software.

  • Differences... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:12PM (#29371811)
    The main differences are the point of the websites. People are more likely to go to Microsoft's site for support, not to buy and compare things. People are more apt to go to Apple's site who are curious about its site and purchase something. While Apple does have good support on its website, it only has a few product lines, not a ton of products like MS.
    • The main differences are the point of the websites. People are more likely to go to Microsoft's site for support, not to buy and compare things. People are more apt to go to Apple's site who are curious about its site and purchase something. While Apple does have good support on its website, it only has a few product lines, not a ton of products like MS.

      I'm not going to argue with you, per se, but it seems like Apple should have MORE to sell, shouldn't they? I mean, they've got hardware AND software. They've got an OS and iLife and various pro applications. They even sell THIRD PARTY hardware and software on their site. Their online store is just like one of their retail stores. How many products does Microsoft have that they're having trouble keeping their product-line and sales site cohesive?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by spearway (169040)

      What is your point there? That Apple does a few things very well and Microsoft a lot poorly? Since when has bloat been a valid excuse for poor design?

    • by moon3 (1530265)
      MSDN network for developers is what makes a big difference here.
  • Subjectivity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:13PM (#29371813)
    The difference is that Apple's website has a "magazine" format that is very easy to duplicate across teams and is conceptually easy to work with and has for a long time, an implicit asumption of uniformality cover-to-cover. Microsoft's webpage is more "web page" like, with less rigourous conceptual designs. Their pages are full dynamic elements, videos, etc... that complement the particular "brand" of software they are selling (notice the website themes within the office suite, the Windows consumer OS, and the Windows Server System and beyond to TechNet and MSDN). Uniformality for navigation's sake is an obvious after-the-fact bolt-on. That being said, MSDN is not conceptually bound to a printed-manual style making it far more usable than Apple's which very much presents like a print-manual converted to HTML.
  • Discoverable URLs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wahgnube (557787) <slashtrash@wahgnube.org> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @05:15PM (#29371845) Homepage Journal
    I personally feel that user-discoverable URLs are the biggest usability strengths of Apple's web site over Microsoft's. Say you want to learn about Safari. You go to apple.com/safari [apple.com], as you'd expect. What if you wanted to learn about Internet Explorer? You need to go to microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/default.aspx [microsoft.com]. Who could have guessed that without a search engine? What about the page for, say, information on a Macbook Pro vs. Microsoft Office? One of these is easily guessable from a consistent URL scheme, the other is not. Easily being able to find content is just as important as good, clear content.
    • Say you want to learn about Safari. You go to apple.com/safari, as you'd expect. What if you wanted to learn about Internet Explorer? You need to go to microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/default.aspx

      Really? [microsoft.com] You really think so? Funny, it worked just fine for me.
      Try it. Just type in http://microsoft.com/ie in your address bar, press Enter and see what happens.

      Who could have guessed that without a search engine?

      Obviously not you, since it seems you didn't even try it.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Your post applies to, *maaaybe*, 0.05% of the population who not only directly types in URLs (instead of using bookmarks/search/address bar history), but also types in URLs they've never seen before. So while it's a valid point, it's not worth any web developer's time to think about.

      Despite that, http://microsoft.com/ie [microsoft.com] works. As does http://microsoft.com/office [microsoft.com] and http://microsoft.com/windows [microsoft.com] . Hell, even http://microsoft.com/sql [microsoft.com] goes directly to SQL Server 2008.

      So it's not worth any web developer's time

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Not to nit-pick, but I was able to get to the Internet explorer site by typing "microsoft.com/ie" and the office site by typing "microsoft.com/office". While the actual URL's may be different, it's all about what you have to type. Besides, most users looking for info on any of these products would most likely use the search engine on their home page anyway. Or at the very least, go to the main "microsoft.com" or "apple.com" page and look around. I do like the "spotlight-ified" search on apples site however.
  • They both SUCK (Score:2, Informative)

    by syousef (465911)

    Seriously, neither are very good. Neither allow you to find things quickly. Both make you jump through hoops to get to things (Microsoft Genuine absolutely turned their web site to poop). Both use flash or web 2.0 garbage when a nice simple static web page would suffice. Both are full of condescending marketing rubbish. You might as well be comparing two turd sandwiches. Consider the resources both companies have to throw at the problem.

    Think different? Where did you want to be today? Puhlease. I wanted to

  • I already griped about Microsoft's site in response to another post in this thread. Apple's site sucks for a different reason. Apple's site seems to be almost 100% marketing related. Any searches done on that site bring up a whole slew of marketing materials and little to no results of a technical nature. For example, a month or so ago I was trying to figure out how to make the Genius feature work on my iPod. Searching for "Genius" brought up all sorts of information about how great and innovative and

    • I have to concur with the Apple related stuff. I am a (mostly) Apple sysadmin/programmer and I have to say that going to Apple's website to try to find sysadmin stuff isn't fun. They do have some pretty decent guides to kind of help you decide what the overall architecture of your system should be and some of the capabilities of their products, but almost nothing in the way of troubleshooting. I have to say that their coding guides(for Cocoa anyway) are alright. They documented a lot of stuff much bette
    • Genius is a marketing tool. It takes the songs you already have in iTunes and uses them to suggest you buy other songs that your songs in iTunes suggest you may like. I'm guessing it's like Pandora or Last.fm, except you can't confirm without paying to own the tracks...
      That's why it won't work on your iPod. Your iPod isn't gonna have access to anything that isn't already on your computer's iTunes -- at least not if Apple has any say about it.
      I don't trust that feature as far as I can (metaphorically) t
      • by dave562 (969951)
        It actually seems to be rather functional. It doesn't really analyze the songs so much as it just matches up other songs from the same genre or similar artists. It works well on the desktop. I can just pick a song from an artist that I like and then it will go through my library and find similar songs and similar artists. If I'm in a classical mood I get a bunch of classical. If I want some techno and electronica I can get that. It works better than random, where it will jump from Beethoven to Guns n
  • Just in comparing troubleshooting sections of both Apple and Microsoft, I've come to one conclusion. They both suck. Microsoft's Knowledge Base search is (at best) a pain in the ass. Regarding Apple, I've tried multiple times (across multiple dates) to log into and report an Apple related bug at https://bugreport.apple.com/ [apple.com] and have gotten nothing better than an error after logging in. Regardless of platform used (Windows with firefox and IE, Powermac with firefox and Safari) the end result was the same
  • by MobyDisk (75490)

    Doesn't Microsoft put out about 100x as many products as Apple? Seems like Microsoft will have to fit 10 times as much content on their site. I bet MSDN alone is bigger than everything Apple has put out combined.

    It is a challenge to try and fit a lot of information - especially detailed complex information - into a single easy-to-use web site.

  • by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... com minus physic> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @06:02PM (#29372467) Homepage Journal

    Look at http://developer.apple.com/ [apple.com] or http://opensource.apple.com/ [apple.com] and you'll find completely separate websites run by different groups, with different styles and goals.

  • I do a lot of Windows, Mac and iPhone development and have found both site to be user-friendly from a developers perspective.

    I've always been surprised though that Apple has never made an iPhone-specific website; especially the Online Store. They make it very frustrating to buy anything through their online Store using one of their devices. That pretty much shuts out any impulse/drunk buyers.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor f . n et> on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @06:54PM (#29372989)

    Here's something I found interesting, being a NoScript user.

    I went to the Apple website, and not having apple.com in the whitelist, I didn't notice it was any different than normal (I had it whitelisted elsewhere). It was only until I got deeper into the navigation did things start to break. I then realized that apple.com was set to BLOCKED by default (NoScript is a whitelist, after all), yet Apple's site didn't immediately become unusuable. In fact, it degraded so gracefully that I never noticed the differences. There were a few, like how the product scroller (on the Mac page) had a rather un-Apple scrollbar (rendered by Firefox), but everything still clicked and acted normal (I thought it was just a Firefox thing). No, JavaScript was off - with it on, it's as I expect.

    I think the ones that failed would've been the iTunes download pages, and the Apple ads (which only let you download the "web" tiny versions - the JavaScript version lets you go all the way to 720p). Maybe even the Apple movie trailers (I can't remember).

    It's not often you come across a modern website whose no-Javascript mode is so similar to the Javascript mode, and with very, very few rendering flaws that would normally clue you in.

    Either Apple designs their website without Javascript support (or minimal support) or their web maintainers are skillful at the art of graceful degradation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by indiechild (541156)

      As a web developer and Mac user I've always found the evolution of the Apple website interesting. Not surprisingly, they keep use of Flash to a minimum (actually, I'm not sure that they use Flash at all on their site) and things are fairly neat and tidy.

      You can tell who understands usability and web architecture by looking at the comments in this story. Apple gets it, Microsoft doesn't, despite people's efforts to defend them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Web standards and graceful degradation seem to be at the forefront of Apple's way of thinking. If you check out the Safari page, it's built using HTML5 but degrades gracefully in browsers that don't support HTML5 yet.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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