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Microsoft Redesigns – Lessons on Marketing, Usability, and Code.

As many people probably have noticed by now, Microsoft has redesigned their homepage. It is a huge step from the previous table based design, which had more space but was horribly cluttered.

Constructive Criticism

Quick to criticize the Microsoft crew, many have shook their head at how the HTML has 4 validation errors, the css is worse, and they use a HTML 4.0 Transitional doctype. They spent all the time to redesign the site, and they couldn’t bother to use XHTML or at least a strict doctype? Is this the Microsoft we know that put all the effort into IE7 only to keep fonts set in PX unsizable, few additional CSS support, and security holes that are found days after it’s release?

What can we learn from Microsoft?

Microsoft is nothing if not a Marketing marvel. Those of us who are developing websites that have a marketing goal (and that is most of us) should take note of their new design. Lets break down the initial messages the average user will see when arriving at the site.

  1. Microsoft Logo – Tagline Your Potential. Our Passion.
  2. Zune – Now Available
  3. Try the New Office
  4. Windows Vista – What it brings to business.
  5. Microsoft and HP offer solutions for people-ready businesses

Now there could be something said about all the real content being below the fold, but for sales it is hard not to be impressed by the Microsoft front page. Those looking for the latest downloads/searches/etc will likely scroll, and everyone is getting a clear “LOOK AT OUR NEW PRODUCTS!” message.

Which websites can put all the content below the fold really depends on the target market. Microsoft’s homepage is more likely to be visited by techie/computer savvy users in actuality. Even though almost everyone has a Microsoft product on their computer, they have so many coded auto-updates or help references that the home page rarely will be one of their destinations.

From a strict holy “web design” point of view, the Microsoft redesign is still very lacking. From a sales and marketing point of view, we should all take note.