Why Apple's Website Design Is So Influential
Apple has always been recognized for their products' beautiful designs, and even for the design of their website, Apple.com. Take a look around the web, and you'll notice tons of sites that are inspired from Apple's design. In fact, I don't even have to list them, as others have already done that.
But what exactly makes this such a great design? Let's find out!
A feature of the design of all of their products is the extreme simplicity. It's part of their branding. Because it's part of their branding, it applies to their website as well.
When you first get to the home page, you see that it really has the bare minimum. There is a main navigation bar, and below that is a giant picture of the iPad. If you scroll down, you'll find a bit of information about some of their other products. But to avoid cluttering up the home page, you'll have to click through to those products' individual sections of the site.
They don't even have a huge logo on their site. The only logo is the little icon in the navigation bar. However, it is still in a consistent location, the top left section of the page and at the beginning of the navigation bar, so users will know that clicking it will take them back to the home page.
It's Well Organized
At Apple.com, everything is nice and organized, with everything where you expect it to be. If you're looking for information about a specific product, you'll be able to get to it from their main navigation bar, at the top of the site.
Once you venture one level deeper into the site, you'll find another menu near the top, to narrow down what products you're looking for information on even more. On every page, you'll find the most important information at the top. If you want the less important details, simply scroll down and you'll find them.
One thing I like about how it's organized is the way that a grid is used. Sections that are less important can have up to five narrow columns, while the important stuff that they want you to pay attention to can take up three or even all five columns.
Not only is it interactive, it's actually done well. In my opinion, it is best for all interactivity to be done subtly. For example, having some small change in an element on the page to let the user know that if they click it, something will happen.
The way interactivity is done on this website can really help usability. The navigation menu changes when hovered over, like how most websites do it, and that's what the user can expect.
But Apple has gone a step further, having the background image change again to a special active state when the user click on one of the links. Most website do not do this, and this really a simple thing that most websites could do to add those extra details that really count.
And that leads me on to my next point…
Extreme Attention to Detail
The details can make or break a design. In web design, it is important to pay attention to the little details.
One example of the excellent attention to detail is this little button. At first, it just looks like a little button telling you to buy a MacBook Pro. But upon closer inspection, you can see all of the details that were put into such a simple button.
Most noticeable is the gradient background, giving a sense of depth. Another detail is a thin border around the button, with a subtle drop shadow. Another nice detail is the hover effect, and the active state of the button when clicked.
One thing that I love about Apple.com is the way that every page is consistent with the rest of the site.
Many times I go to some company's website (*cough* Asus *cough*), and I'm greeted with a page with information to get me to buy their latest product. And then I head over to the "store" section of the site to buy it, to find a page that is completely different from the rest of the site, with entirely different colours and layout. Later, when I have a problem with the product I bought, I check out the "support" section of their site, and end up having to learn a new way to navigate through this part of the site.
But not with Apple. If I want to buy a laptop from them, I can simply go to the appropriate section of the site and easily figure out how to navigate it, based on my experience with the rest of the site. And then when I have a question, I can take a look at the "support" section of the site, and quickly figure out how to get support for my laptop.
What Could Be Improved
While the design of Apple's website is very well done overall, there are always a few little things that could be improved.
All of the videos on the site are in Apple's QuickTime. That's a problem for me, because it doesn't seem to be officially available for Linux. Maybe it's just a secret plan to make everyone buy their software. But QuickTime is available for Windows, so…
Move the breadcrumb navigation closer to the top of the page. Users looking to go one or more levels up in the site would find this helpful, but right now it's hidden down in the footer. Users looking for a breadcrumb trail will expect it to be in an area that is "above the fold", like it is on just about every other website.
That's really all that I noticed. But I'm sure I could find a couple more, if I was being very picky.
Apple really has a near-perfect website design, with just a couple of minor problems that could be improved.
What do you think of the design of Apple's website? Do you love it, or do you think the style is overused? Be sure to leave your answer in the comments section of this post.