Tip To The MSDN Team, Props on the Site

Yesterday I wrote a somewhat critical blog entry to Microsoft regarding their completely unintelligible use of domains, subdomains, and messaging around products.  I’m not sure who exactly is responsible, but I hope they read it.  I didn’t mean it as a personal attack or anything, just simply as a “please get yourself in line and respect what you do” type of message.

So that leads me to this open letter.  This open letter is primarily about giving props for a job well done on the site redesign of MSDN.  First off though I want to mention one thing.

Tip #1 – The URL is still a bit funky with the .aspx and en-us in it.  Clean that thing up. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx should look more like http://msdn.microsoft.com/ and that’s it.  NOTHING else.  At least get rid of the “default.aspx” page hanging around there.  Almost every major framework stack; PHP, Ruby on Rails, etc has removed the index.htm and at least left clean RESTful URIs.  It is a beautiful thing, make yours beautiful too.

Ok, now for the props!

Dear MSDN Team,

I wanted to write this open letter and commend the team on the redesign of the MSDN Site.  First let’s take a look at the MSDN Site.

MSDN Site Home Page

MSDN Site Home Page

At the very top of the page two things I like immediately.  Some UX Folks might not, but I dig the UX design around the UI for the four links; desktop, web, cloud, and phone.  The simple nature, basic styles of the blocks, and the hover over effect creates a very immediate communication of what each is focused around.  I read blog entry by Pete Brown about the MSDN and these blocks, which Microsoft’s Team dubbed “Hubs”.  There is a FAQ also available on the redesign.

The other point I’d like to draw attention to is that someone put the news on the upper part of the page.  Here I caught the “Visual Studio Lightswitch” News bit.  Of course, one could say it’s just a big add, but it really is more about MSDN news bits.  But I digress, I like that the upper section has that instead of digging around for it.

The sections below that have various links, that often don’t show up on the initial page display.  Scrolling down to search through this information is acceptable though, as it is something one would dig through and have intent around something very specific.

desktop

desktop

desktop

The desktop section of the site is setup following the new guidelines around simplification of data presentation.  This is something that has been sorely needed on MSDN for years.  Not sure if one remembers the nasty nested to the Nth degree treeview on the left hand side.  I don’t know where it went, but I’m really happy it is gone.  Now the layout is simple and to the point, with the key points of information being laid out in multiple steps.

web

The web section, again follows this new redesign model of user experience.

web

web

cloud

The cloud section again follows this new redesign…

cloud

cloud

phone

This too follows the redesign.  Simple, clean, and straight forward presentation of information.

phone

phone

I also like how the messaging around the primary platforms is clear.  It almost doesn’t’ seem like marketing is involved, which in my opinion is the best type of marketing.  When marketing kind of acts as the librarian that is helping you to find that key piece of information.  It’s very cool, it’s almost kind of cool in a way.

To summarize, I’m impressed.  MSDN Team, you guys have done a great job.  Props!

A Frequent Business User and Customer,
Adron @ Composite Code

That’s it for open letters for a while.  Now I’m off to do a bit of coding with Azure for the Phone using Visual Studio 2010.  🙂