Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ABCNews.com Take Note: AOL.com Is Testing A New Home Page Design And They Asked Me Nicely If I Want to See It Before Going Live

Recently, ABCNews.com went through a redesign and experienced a lot of customer backlash. They just unveiled it one day without preparing their customers at all. These were major changes that changed how users would search and find news items. Lots of bad feedback right on their website was the result.

They could have learned a bit from AOL. AOL doesn’t come up as much as Amazon and Google do when it comes to UX design examples, but in this case they show they are sensitive to their customer’s online experience. Yahoo did this as well last year when they changed their homepage, so maybe they patterned themselves after them.

When I went to check my AOL mail online the other day (which is becoming rarer and rarer these days), up popped a layer that asked me if I wanted to learn more about a New AOL.com Experience they are testing. I could take a tour, explore it for myself, or most importantly I could CLOSE the popup and use the website they way I always have. This accomplishes a lot of things. I have been warned that at some point this may become the new home page, but they respect me enough to say they are testing it. This means they value my feedback, or at least say that they do. At my leisure, I can come back and take or tour or go and take a test surf. The Tour was kind of cool, by the way.

Why didn’t ABCNews.com do something like this? A lot of people make news websites their home page. AOL and Yahoo home pages are very much like news portals as well. They understood that if you change that experience without preparation you are risking more than a casual user, you are losing a user that sees your home page every time they open a browser. You have to respect that kind of commitment from your users a little more than ABCNews.com did.

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