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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!
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?
"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*.
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.
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.
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.
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 commiteesabsolute agreement! Sometimes I think more than a little "one-up-manship" creeps into the mix...