I’ve been watching the whole grid/adaptive design and short-form content revolution roll out in slow motion over the past couple of years.
So how’s the revolution going? To see, I spent some quality time on 17 major sites on our eBusiness Index. Turns out it’s playing out in four ways:
Some sites have jumped onto the bandwagon with both feet. Apple.com is still the muse for the consumer markets – but Adobe.com is the pluperfect example of these designs taken to their logical conclusion on the IT Web. Microsoft.com also plays in this category, but its messy renditions lack the elegance seen on the Apple and Adobe sites.
Variations on the theme
Like all things in life, there’s always a middle ground. IBM.com – and especially its Smarter Planet and Pure Systems zones – are great examples of B2B-centric variations on these new themes. After a perfectly dreadful couple of years, HP.com is also starting to trend in this direction – and EMC.com and SAP.com are also putting their own stamps on the genre.
A little bit pregnant
Many teams I talk with are still trying to figure out how to adopt these new designs and voice without throwing the baby out with the bath water. For most, the fastest way to redesign nirvana is to add some nominal content blocking on pages and slash and burn the site’s content into a new, more engaging voice. Cisco.com and Oracle.com are good examples of these strategies at play – and Symantec.com’s Enterprise and SMB zones are examples of trying to have it both ways (not necessarily a good thing). (Update! Oracle.com has started to roll out its new adaptive design which is stacking up to be a B2B game changer. Here’s why.)
This leaves us with the sites that are still paying by old rules. Here, we have Juniper.net which gets an attaboy for its tidy design, but populates it with long, complicated, and deadly dull content that is the bane of these new design schemes. Meanwhile, Accenture.com, Brocade.com, CA.com, and Cognizant.com all missed the “there’s a new sheriff in town” memo. Dell.com seems to have gotten the memo, but a turn through its services & solutions and industry zones suggests that it isn’t quite sure what to do about it.
Here’s a graph that gives you the big picture.
Marty’s Google+ Conference Post: I was going to include the IBM SWG site as one of the sites executing a variation on the theme in my “8 sites that get it and 6 sites that don’t” blog this week. Then I surfed over to snag a screenshot and had a “yikes!” moment. What are they thinking?