APPLE VS. MICROSOFT – A WEBSITE USABILITY STUDY
RESOURCES, USABILITY · MAY 29, 2009
Today we’re going to compare the websites of two monumental companies: Apple and Microsoft.
The two giants pride themselves for producing cutting edge consumer and business products, and are leading the developments in software and hardware.
But what about their websites? How do they both compare, and more important, which one is better and more usable?
Well, in this article we’ll take a look at both websites for closer examination from a usability point of view.
One important thing to note before we proceed to compare these two websites is that each company’s business revolves around different markets. ...view middle of the document...
You’ve got a few seconds to convince them that the site has enough value for them to keep using it, because if it doesn’t, the visitors will leave.
Apple’s approach to the homepage has been consistent throughout all the years that the site has been running. They use this page as a kind of advertising board that always shows a big ad of their latest product, followed by 3 other ads to another 3 products or news that is important at the moment.
If you’re not interested in any of the 4 suggested items, you can use the large navigation bar at the top, which is split into their core businesses: Mac, iPod and iPhone, followed by a couple of other important links, such as the online store and support pages. The navigation bar also incorporates a search field.
The interesting thing here is that the main ad at the top is huge — indeed it almost covers the entire page. If this doesn’t grab your attention then nothing will. Apple knows the importance of getting the customer’s attention using good marketing, so they’re not afraid to really go for it.
One other thing to note is the lack of content. You’re not distracted by sidebars, notices or extra navigation items — there are only a few items on the page, focusing your attention andmaking the decision of where to go next easier.
Microsoft has a different approach to their homepage. Firstly, they feature a similar style of ad at the top, designed to be attention grabbing. These are large images, but only one out of 3 ads is shown at a time — you have to hover over the other two to expand them. This focuses attention, but may potentially weaken the effectiveness of the two hidden ads since the visitor has to work to see them. Right at the top of the page is the navigation, together with search.
What’s below the main ads is more interesting though. As I mentioned previously, Microsoft’s business operates in many markets, including both business to business and business to consumer.
The space below acts as a set of highlights and news for these various areas of the business. One big problem with the content featured here is that it’s fairly boring and overwhelming, with a lot of information packed into a very small space, without anything try to make it scannable.
Sure, it’s broken down into bullet points, but the font is small and there are hardly any images to differentiate between the items. As it stands, there is little to attract me to make me want to read through this content because it’s just, well… boring.
What I mean by flow is this: is the site structured and laid out in such a way that I can easily find items to focus on? Do I know what to read after I focus on those items — is the site design directing me across the page with less effort on my part, or do I have to work to try and navigate around the content to find what I need?
Here’s the MobileMe section on Apple.com:
I think Apple has done a great job at structuring all of their pages. Here,...