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Apple.com redesign?

According to MacRumors.com, “Apple.com has not undergone a major revision since the Mac OS X theme change in 1999/2000. The most recent pre-Mac OS X theme archive available is from November 1999.”

Jeffery Zeldman of Happy Cog Studios and Douglas Bowman of Stopdesign have been contracted by Apple Computer, and according to Bowman will be “consulting with the in-house team, providing guidance and a bit of a jump start as they explore the waters of web standards and forward-thinking design. To clear up some confusion and speculation, this does not imply a visual redesign is in the works.”

Zeldman says they’ll “assist in bringing the benefits of standards compliance and forward compatibility to the company’s well-known, much-admired site. We’ll be working with Messieurs Rand Hill, Douglas Vincent, and Chad Little of Apple’s web design team.”

Personally, I like their site. Simple, direct, and text based. Does Apple.com need a visual redesign? Ahem, perhaps a brushed metal look?

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PUBLISHED ON Aug.28.2003 BY Kiran Max Weber
Bob’s comment is:

Zeldman: "...bringing the benefits of standards compliance and forward compatibility to the company’s well-known, much-admired site. "

Bowman: "To clear up some confusion and speculation, this does not imply a visual redesign is in the works."

No visual redesign.

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:17 AM
Arikawa’s comment is:

Maybe I'm missing the point, but I think both Zeldman and Bowman allude to the fact that a visual redesign is not imminent.

I gather from their comments that their main purpose will be to consult and educate apple's own developers on ways to improve the structure, remove the code bloat, and get apple's Site up to standards.

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:21 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

No visual redesign.

Right, got that Bob. My question was, "Does Apple.com need a visual redesign?"

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:22 AM
HP’s comment is:

I don't think that Apple.com needs a visual redesign but do believe that it will get "touched up" to reflect Panther look. It will, probably, be done using CSS although such a transition is likely to be gradual.

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:38 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

I think the site is fine. The search function has always been a bit difficult to deal with, though.

But how about that G5 shipping box? The official computer of the Oakland Raiders? Cool.

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:39 AM
Sam’s comment is:

How extensive a redesign are we talking? There was the switch to Myriad, now the new black shipping boxes for the G5--something along those lines for the site?

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:42 AM
JLee’s comment is:

Mmmmm... brushed metal. I hope I never go to the apple site and see a big piece of brushed metal staring me down!

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:46 AM
HP’s comment is:

Speaking of redesign of Apple.com - what would you change if anything?

On Aug.28.2003 at 11:54 AM
Armin’s comment is:

I think apple.com works perfectly. The design is subdued, it lets the information speak for itself and I just wanna lick those buttons. A brushed metal interface would look very cheesy, yes, that means I think OS X's brushed metal look is cheesy.

I don't think it needs a face-lift. A usabilty overhaul? Maybe, I guess it can only get better if they are working with Zeldman — he has a book.

On Aug.28.2003 at 12:25 PM
kia’s comment is:

I miss the original Apple store design. Maybe I'm biased 'cause I worked on it, but I thought it was much cleaner. It's sort of frightening how it's starting to look really dated. The new design's not too bad either but THE GUMDROP BUTTONS! THEY KILL ME! HATE! HATE! HATE!

I think the information architecture is mostly great (except for the support section, which needs some work) and the UI is pretty clean and straightforward. It looks like they're mostly trying to clean up some of the redundancies and confusion in the site architecture, but if they get rid of those damn candy colored buttons, I will dance a little dance of joy.

On Aug.28.2003 at 01:02 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

It will, probably, be done using CSS although such a transition is likely to be gradual.

How long does it take for a big site like apple.com to go through such a transition like the one they are talking about, in terms of standards compliance? Also, how can a site as big as Apple's not be standards compliant?

The search function has always been a bit difficult to deal with, though.

I agree, I can never find what I want on their support site.

How extensive a redesign are we talking?

As big a transition as from the 99 site to today's which actually isn't much. The tabbed system was the biggest visual and navigational change. As big as the PowerMac G4 to the PowerMac g5. Apple extensive, they always seem to push the envelope with design. Look at adobe.com, I think they've redesigned twice recently although Damien may have issues with that. ;)

Anyone know what the site looked like pre 99, like 1995?

Mmmmm... brushed metal.

It was a joke. I don't really get the outrage concerning the metal and pulsating buttons though. XP goofy yes, bothersome no.

On Aug.28.2003 at 01:07 PM
HP’s comment is:

How long does it take for a big site like apple.com to go through such a transition like the one they are talking about, in terms of standards compliance? Also, how can a site as big as Apple's not be standards compliant?

Well, Apple.com relies mostly on tables for layout and there are quite a few of pages where tables are nestled. Furthermore, not everything on the site is standards-compliant but then it works in almost any browser.

On the other hand, most of Apple.com is based on a WebObjects application (including static pages) so any transition to mostly CSS layout will require a lot of work to integrate the presentation layer with application code. In its current form, Web Builder component of WebObjects generates HTML 3.2 code so any use of CSS has to be manually coded, then tested on a running instance of an application and then redone if needed. It's not too difficult but can be rather time-consuming.

On Aug.28.2003 at 01:18 PM
jes�s’s comment is:

Yeah, Kia, I won't miss those cheesy gumdrop buttons if they decide to kill them.

On Aug.28.2003 at 01:35 PM
Colin’s comment is:

Apple.com, circa 1996. (Some of the graphics don't load, but it gives you the idea, I think.)

On Aug.28.2003 at 01:45 PM
Tan’s comment is:

You know, I've always liked the site. But I don't love it.

I'm no web expert, but it seems to me that the site is the least congruent part of their brand cupboards. It's functional, but busy -- albeit in a tasteful way. I don't know how to say it -- but it just doesn't add anything to their brand image. And that's a missed opportunity I think.

Their stores look like their ads and (old) commercials (lots of white and negative space) which looks like their products (a little less so w/ the G5). Why shouldn't the website fortify this also?

But I do realize that much of the look of apple.com is due to it being a commerce site. It's the nature of the beast. Lotsa buttons, lotsa text, lotsa crap.

But if anyone can innovate to meet the challenge, it should be Apple.

On Aug.28.2003 at 02:04 PM
Su’s comment is:

I think we're all aware Jobsy isn't going to let anybody touch the visual styling in any significant way, but a usability/structure overhaul would be really nice. The site's info structure sucks hard. Besides the aforementioned inability to find things in the support area, there's a lot of good content there that you simply will not find unless you know where it is, or get there with a lucky search. Apple's site has one of three or so resources on The Elephant's Memory, a gorgeous visual language. Note that other than "Education" being highlighted, you have no idea where the hell you are in the site. Now, click on Education, and get back there, using only the site's live navigation. I'm not actually sure that you can. They do this everywhere: click more than three times or so and you're stranded with no clue where you came from. Even if breadcrumb navigation is too much to ask, slightly more informational headers would be nice. If you read the URL, that Elephant's Memory page is in the Spring '99 issue of Apple's old Learning Technology Review. If you look at the page itself or page title, you are simply in "Education." Thanks a lot, guys.

On Aug.28.2003 at 02:22 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

That Elephant's Memory article is a great find. Nice!

As for Apple's site, it sounds like they have two great guys on the job to improve things.

On Aug.28.2003 at 05:15 PM
KM’s comment is:

�now the new black shipping boxes for the G5�


On Aug.28.2003 at 07:23 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

A little off-topic, but did Apple make any kind of announcement when they finallly abandoned ITC Garamond (condensed 85%) for Myriad? It was a huge change, and one that I think even civilians would have noticed. Was there any statement of the strategy behind the conversion?

On Aug.28.2003 at 08:05 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I have never heard of press releases for type changes Michael. Although that would be a major breakthrough for our profession. It could be on CNN and stuff. On the days when major corporations switch their corporate typeface it could even affect stock prices!

Smartassed comments aside, I am so happy they abandoned that condensed Garamond. It always looked antiquated. Jeff Goldblum made it look (or sound) more elegant than it was.

On Aug.29.2003 at 08:43 AM
Bradley’s comment is:

As far as e-commerce sites go, I like apple.com a lot.

The REAL question is though, why doesn't Apple produce an annual report? They just release a Form 10-K. How boring!

(yes, that was sarcasm. But I'm still curious about why no glossy annual from Andy Dreyfus and the rest of the design department there.)

On Aug.29.2003 at 09:20 AM
anon’s comment is:

word of advice: never, ever, ever release to the world news about someting you're doing for apple. before apple does.

On Aug.29.2003 at 11:04 AM
anthony’s comment is:

The apple site is full of love and hate for me. In some ways it is a hodge podge of updates where it seems you can tell different departments needed to make as they tried to move forward with the site. The updates to the Store made maybe 6 months were much needed to handle the increasing product presentation. The pro section http://www.apple.com/pro/

is one that seems to be in an evolving flux of new design elements, while the business section http://www.apple.com/business/

seems like it is from a different site. As for the metal look you only have to go to http://www.mac.com/

to experience it in its full glory.

I think that sites like this show a principle that I like about the web in relation to design. It is flexible enough to handle somewhat diverging looks and approaches and it works as long as serve the audience in the best way possible it allows for enriched site growth. It seems as though areas of the site are flexible and not locked into a rigid design presentation to hold intact guidelines setup at the inception of the site but allow for modification based on actual need. Though this seems in theory to go again some of the Job-sien ideals of brand design.

some funny things about the site are the search, though they really have made strides with the support section I think. The fact they have no "About Us" section, mainly funny in relation to the web these days, but they just have no company section accessible from the main site, to explain the company philosophy, which would be good. I do like the simplicity of their URLs, whenever you want info on a product you know you can go to apple.com/product and get it. As far as large product/marketing sites go I think it mixes the two well, and is a distinct fashion, with a high amount of flexibility.

On Aug.29.2003 at 05:21 PM
Su’s comment is:

Anthony: True. The "apple.com/[product]/" are an easy and obvious little convenience that an amazing number of companies don't set up. I'm always irritated when some site makes me click several times to reach product info when I could just do something similar to the above.

On Aug.29.2003 at 10:26 PM
Todd W.’s comment is:

I think the visual design currently matches the company's brand and general "look and feel", so perhaps there's room from some touch up, as people have recommended, but not an overhaul.

As Su pointed out, the underlying architecture, however, is a disaster. I suspect few people actually go there to find information, they just gawk at the pictures or else the site'd have a worse rep than it does. For instance, head over the xServ product pages and start digging through the info. There is no consistent navigation within the section; once you dig into a particular topic you are left with the back button as your only means of escape. Some sub pages are only linked to from text links in the body copy. Train wreck.

On Sep.04.2003 at 11:51 AM
Todd W.’s comment is:

If the new iPod pages are what's in store, I can only shudder...


On Sep.08.2003 at 09:47 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Along the lines of CSS revamps, k10k reports World-champion WDDG redesigns with web standards, a bit o' Flash and a some QT. Personally I thought the previous sites were a lot more aesthetically compelling, detailed and lush and just plain strong. Not crazy about justified html text in the new one.

But mostly I mention this to alert folks to the ascii treat in the source code.

On Feb.22.2004 at 02:57 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Pretty� but no rollovers? How is that compliant?

On Feb.22.2004 at 03:52 PM