Home > Project Rethink > My Favorite Product Redesigns

My Favorite Product Redesigns

September 19th, 2008

It’s that time of year when people decide to spruce up their products for Q4. This always happens with hardware manufacturers like Apple and Sony; but lately I’ve noticed our favorite web apps getting a makeover. Here is a list of my favorite changes from websites I use every day.


Alltop, www.alltop.com
A great website created by Guy Kawasaki, inspired by popurls. If you have never used Alltop, you’re missing out. Dan Roam illustrates Alltop perfectly, here.

The new UI is simple and clean with AJAX in all the right places. 

I find that not enough people know about Alltop, here is the description from their website:

You can think of an Alltop site as a “digital magazine rack” of the Internet. To be clear, Alltop sites are starting points—they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that we are trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and helping you discover sites that you didn’t know existed. In other words, our goal is the “cessation of Internet stagnation” by providing “aggregation without aggravation.”


Twitter, www.twitter.com
I love the new twitter design. There are so many benefits, but in the end it comes down to usability. The new design settings are great and the right hand navigation works really well. One of my favorite design tweaks is actually how links within a tweet change color on the div:hover. It’s just a little pop that makes this site feel solid.

But no hover on star or reply? Come on twitter.

At least they didn’t change fail whale.


Facebook, www.facebook.com
This change was long coming. For a while Facebook ran simultaneous versions, allowing users to opt into the new version. My first reaction to the change was negative, and I actually resisted for as long as I could.

But change is good, and earlier this month Facebook made the switch. A few people didn’t like the change. There are more than 500 active groups in Facebook petitioning for the old UI.

All that aside, I have grown to like the new interface. It is much easier to comment on what people are doing, the profile picture is larger, and the layout (though different) works.

I think people just have an adverse reaction to “different”. The more I use New Facebook, the more I like it.


MySpace, www.myspace.com
MySpace 2.0 was released back on June 18th, but I felt I had to mention it simply because it needed it the most. I don’t use MySpace as often as the other products on this list.  The old UI was so cluttered and full of ads, it was too hard to use. Granted, the new version still has more advertising than I know what to do with, but at least the UI controls stand out.

They made the important controls stand out, grouped commonly used items, and gave the entire site a makeover. MySpace added graphic treatments and AJAX to give the UI a consistent feel.

This UI update made me feel like MySpace was making an effort to catch back up to Facebook, and I think it helped.


iPod Nano, www.apple.com/ipodnano
Of course you can’t talk about a product redesign without mentioning the latest eye-candy from Cupertino, CA.

I don’t think anyone will argue that Apple doesn’t make beautiful products. But the addition of an accelerometer for enhanced user experience just makes this even better.


Lessons and Takeaways

It’s fun to talk about the latest and greatest technologies, but there is something we can learn from these release cycles. In business, you often hear the phrase Cash Cow. Basically, a Cash Cow is a product that produces the majority of your profits. Traditional approaches to these products are to milk them for all they worth and dump the money into something else new and exciting with hopes that your new product will become your next Cash Cow.

The iPod has been Apple’s Cash Cow for almost 4-5 years now.

Modern technology is changing at such a rapid rate, milking a cash cow for all it’s worth is no longer the standard practice.

In order to stay on top, sometimes you have to put yourself out of business.

In other words, you have to come out with the next, great version of your product before your competition does. This is why we see a new iPod every year, and why the competition has yet to penetrate the market.

So I applaud all of these redesigns. It takes effort to stay on top.

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