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Help! Client wants a cluttered page like Microsoft's
Is it really such a bad navigational gui?

 3:57 am on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

The client is a software/online services licensor who repackages and sells to non-english speaking consumers. He fancies his business offerings to be multipronged like Microsoft's and figures it's logical that he should emulate them.

Anybody have a good argument against that?



 4:28 am on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

How about sanity? ;)

Seriously though, if he wants it exactly like M$'s with the flyout menus that do not function in Opera, NS6/7 and Mozilla... you might mention that little fact.

Did I mention sanity?

I've always found the M$ site a bit overbearing and muddled. It is NOT the easiest site to find what you are looking for, though I admit, I stopped going there many months ago. Things may have improved.

Top menu, side menu, flyouts... Be sure to bring food and water in case you get lost.

The thing I've never liked about sites that make heavy use of flyout menus is that it is sometimes difficult to remember where you found the link to the page you wanted. Sub-sub menus can be tricky. Categories can sometimes get confusing; a specific link might be found in one logical category, but it may also fit into another... so where is it? Who knows... I'm already somewhere else!


 5:49 am on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

There's a reason for Google's Microsoft search [google.com]. And one big reason is that Microsoft's website is problematic in a host of ways.


 6:43 am on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

It will depend much on how much information he has to offer:

I often get asked questions surrounding the issue of 'I want a site like <insert huge organization here>' but the reason these sites look the way they do is that they have shed loads of content so the home page navigation reflects that.

Tell if he can come up with another 2000 pages of content it would be your pleasre, otherwise why not have something that fits, and more importantly benefits his businesses information?



 1:54 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks! All very intelligent responses! Much obliged!


 4:52 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I just have to share...got this in an email from our newest client and it's *such* a breath of fresh air! He's the VP of a fairly small consulting company, and the sites in his competitive area include bain.com, mckinsey.com, pwcconsulting.com, kpmg.com -- in other words, those BIG companies that many clients say they want a site just like....

"Looking at competitive sites, most of them have many more offerings than we do so naturally they need to present more content and require search
capability that is not necessary for our site. Many of these sites appear too busy to me, peppered with articles etc. I realize the goal of a good website is to allow the user to do what they wish with as few clicks as possible, but the tradeoff seems to be a lack of focus especially on the home page."

Anyway, just thought you'd all like to know that there are clients out there who get that they aren't Microsoft or PricewaterhouseCoopers and want a design that suits *them*.


 2:59 am on Jun 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

>How about sanity?

How about geography? In general I kind of think that your typical Japanese pages are much more "cluttered" than your typical American pages--especially those coming from the west coast, which seem to really influence what comes out of, say, the mid-west.

I often see Japanese colleagues looking at American sites and complaining that there is not enough info, especially on the top page.

Have you ever seen a Japanese newspaper or mainstream magazine? Have you ever walked down a street in Tokyo? Have you ever seen a Japanese kitchen? What's "cluttered" to you may not be to a Japanese. Conversely, what's "clean and simple" to you might be "insufficient" to a Japanese.

I'm no expert on this; I have no idea what generalizations might apply to the rest of Asia. This is just the feeling I get sitting here in Tokyo making web sites.


 3:19 am on Jun 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

great response daikon. Totally agreed that East Asian sites seem to be more "packed with content". And your comparison with Tokyo streets is superb. What to some is clutter to others means - a lot of things happening here!".

I remember once when selling journals to big Asian company libraries and university libraries. Many times they would say that our mags and journals were not good becuase they had added up the number of words in each journal and divided by the price. We had a much higher "cost per word"! So quantity rather than quality in these cases was more important.

My view is that a site which people HAVE to go to, or are highly rated can afford to have a lot of navigational overhead. People are less likely to go away while its loading becuase they "know" somehwere in there it will have the answers they want, and is probably the only place which will have the answers they want.

In that case i think lots of navigation ala MS is justified and actually makes sense. Having said that, I see lots of sites that have this but have absolutely no need for it, and lose visitirs as a result to competing sites. In most cases I put it down to an overinflated ego on the value of their site.


 3:55 am on Jun 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

Random thoughts:

That is truly a vivid description literally and in the mind.

It's kind of ironic that here in the San Francisco Bay Area, what is sold to the yuppie hot tubbers is the view of Japan that resembles an uncluttered haiku, zen, and pretty looking sushi.

Unless you watch Beat Takeshi movies and read novels by Osamu Dazai, Mishima, Kawabata, etc... (I think the Cheap Kentucky Vodka is kicking in).

Getting back to the subject: I think these overgrown web sites grow by commitees. Too many cooks. Too many ingredients.


 5:04 am on Jun 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

daikon, very valid point! There cultural difference to be sure, and yes, many of the Asian sites I visit are "packed." Organization is the key point. The potential danger of a M$ style navigation scheme is loss of clarity. The menu options can be so numerous and complex, that it becomes cumbersome and difficult.

Look at the homepage of Webmaster World... there's a heck of a lot of links, but the clarity is outstanding! It's very easy to navigate and much more user-friendly.

...grow by commitees
absolute agreement! Sometimes I think more than a little "one-up-manship" creeps into the mix...

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