While much of Apple’s website is well laid out and easy to use, the news that Jeffrey Zeldman and Doug Bowman are teaming up with Apple to (presumably) push the site towards standards compliance and accessibility is very welcome. However, there is one member of the Apple.com family that, I believe, requires special focus; the .Mac site. This site is an attempt to make a web page look and feel more like the 3-paned interface seen the iLife apps; the brushed metal effect is an annoyance on the desktop nevermind on a website. Apple have made the mistake of believing that in order to make the .Mac site (and the tools within it) as user friendly as possible, it must behave in a way that Mac users are familiar with, i.e. the iApps. I have a .Mac subscription, used primarily for POP3 mail and the excellent Backup utility. However, it is rare that I use the .Mac site simply because it offers a poor user experience. I’m not compelled to go back to it to see what’s new and as a fee-paying subscriber I expect more.
Although it’s unknown how this alliance with Apple will develop, I personally hope that Zeldman and Bowman will be working to create a faster, leaner, more usable .Mac site using XHTML, CSS and not a whiff of brushed metal.