Feedback on the refreshed Microsoft Developer Network
First, thanks for all the feedback, even if some of it is a bit brutal. Sorry for not getting back a bit sooner. I had planned to it Monday but came down with a pretty nasty cold this weekend. However, I’ve been reading all the feedback carefully and digesting it.
Let me distill the feedback that I heard in order of strength and I would appreciate you letting me know if I captured it correctly:
- I can’t find anything but Windows Store app stuff. Even if I click on “I am a Web Developer”, I get Windows store app stuff. This makes no sense.
- The site has too much of a marketing feel to it. Give me technical content.
- There are aspects of the new design I don’t like – like the larger header on reference pages, the color of the search box, etc.
- Overall the visual look has some nice points.
Let me start by explaining where I am coming from with the new design…
It should be no secret that Microsoft is trying to help people learn how to build Windows Store applications. One of our goals with the site redo was to both address why and how. Why should you build a Windows Store app? What’s in it for you? What’s good about them, etc? How can you build a Windows store app – based on what your background is – Windows, Web, .NET, iOS, Android, etc?
A second goal of the refresh was to begin to address the problems of developer content fragmentation. Over the past few years, I feel our developer content has become overly fragmented by platform/technology with no good place capturing the totality of building an end to end app on the Windows platform – device, web, service, data, etc. The previous revision of the site was heavily oriented towards routing you to the main platform developer centers – that was the main real estate on the home page. Our goal is to create a place that better weaves the resources together.
Another goal was to do a much better job than we ever have before in providing a platform on which different geos around the world could build localized experiences. For instance, us telling you about 3 upcoming conferences, all on the west coast of the US, is not of much value to you if you are in India. The site is designed in a way that each region can augment or replace content with geo relevant information without creating a significant update problem for us. Of course, you can’t see that yet because we’ve only launched the US version of it but you will.
We have tons of data (we collect telemetry on the web site) on what people actually do. First, more than 70% of people come to MSDN through search. Most of the rest come through some web link – from a blog, forum post, etc. A comparatively small amount of the traffic comes to the home page. Of the traffic that does, there are two primary modes – either the trail leads to subscriptions or to downloads (both of which are still prominent in the new design).
So, again, our goal is to try to add more value on the home page.
Let me comment on some of the feedback.
1. I can’t find anything but Windows Store app stuff.
Mea culpa. Yep. We messed that up. We’ve always viewed this as an evolution – not a one time shot and we have a lot of content planned to bring to the site. We were working against a deadline and some of the content was not ready. It all came together hot enough that it was a little difficult to see the forest for the trees and it wasn’t until I started seeing the feedback that I realized how painful it was to have the missing content we did. We’re working on rectifying that quickly. We’ll have some cloud developer content online this week and I hope we’ll have updates every week for the next several as we build out the site to represent the breadth of the platform we intend it to. As we bring the additional content online, I’d certainly appreciate additional feedback on how we can make it a great experience.
2. The site has too much of a marketing feel to it.
Certainly adding a little bit of marketing feel in the sense of representing the “why” component was intentional. However, like any developer, I too have an aversion to anything that feels too much like marketing. This is an area that may very well need additional refinement. I agree that if you already know “why” we don’t want to shove it in your face and instead let you get to the “how” content as quickly and easily as possible. If you feel the site has too much of a marketing feel to it, please give me some specific examples we could improve.
3. There are aspects of the new design I don’t like.
Great feedback. Keep it coming and we’ll iterate rapidly on it. Putting out a major redesign is almost always going to result in some issues and over the next few months, we’ll refine the site to make it friendly and easy to use.
Lastly, I’ve seen a number of people who seem to just be missing the previous experience. For those of you who are, could you please share with me what your scenarios were? What did you use? What could you find before that you can’t find now? I used the old site for a long time and I always felt we could do better. We’re trying to but we don’t intend to cut off any important usage patterns. Though we have lots of data on what people actually click on on the site, we aren’t able to intuit why they are doing it or whether they are happy with the result. I’d be happy for you to share anything you can that could help us here.
So, just to reiterate, I appreciate the feedback and am committed to iterating quickly and addressing the issues.