Nearly two years ago, a new design of the Microsoft.com home page was met with near universal contempt from the web development community. Jeffery Zeldman took them to task for their gratuitous font tags, and Mark Pilgrim heavily criticised their terrible accessibility.
Fast forward to today, and the site has had another redesign – only this time, something’s different. While the new design misses out on full standards compliance by quite a bit, the underlying code shows a dramatic improvement in both markup quality and accessibility. The table count is down to just 8 from over 40, the font tags have been relegated to the dustbin of history and the size of the homepage HTML has been slashed to less than 11 KB. This is a significant step forward, and one that deserves recognition.
A comparison of the new design to the old shows just how much of an improvement can be had through standards based methods. Compare Mark Pilgrim’s snapshot of the 2002 redesign in a text only browser with this snapshot of the new design in the same. Web standards techniques are not an all-or-nothing approach; even incremental adoption can lead to substantial improvements. Hopefully Microsoft’s new homepage is a sign of greater things to come.
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