Today is the first day of Internet Week in New York City, and I’m sitting in a keynote event where Microsoft’s acclaimed UX guru, Bill Buxton, is talking about the future of the Internet. One of the great examples of the future is Microsoft’s new website to promote their Expression 4 product, which launched this morning. This site is special for us, as the developers, and is special for Microsoft as our client. You see, all the product-related sites at Microsoft have a similar shell. They have a consistency so that you know you’re looking at a Microsoft product. That is great for usability, and it’s a good fit in most cases. However, Expression 4 is Microsoft’s design tool. It is the tool behind Silverlight development and doesn’t fit the mold of things like Word, Excel, or even Windows. The site is for a different target: designers. They are looking for something a little different, something that shows off the power of the tool it’s selling. That’s where we came in. We’ve worked on the Expression website for the past two years, and the site over that time has fit within the Microsoft mold. Well this year, we’ve broken that mold. The Expression product is breaking out, and so should the site! On its face, it looks pretty normal and straight forward. Here’s a screenshot of the site that launched this morning: I mean, it looks great. Clean, clear and easy to navigate. But what’s really cool is the entire content area of the site, so everything under the menu is built in Silverlight. This gives us the ability to make it truly interactive. That’s hard to illustrate in flat graphics, so I encourage you to visit the site at http://www.microsoft.com/expression. For now, here’s a little taste. You’ll notice two boxes in the lower right of the page, asking “what’s right for me” and promoting the “5 Days” video series. Here is that area in its normal state: Here are a couple of shots of when those two areas are moused over, but you’re missing the 3D transition. That’s the best part. So check out the site, and check out the product trial. Microsoft isn’t the first thing to come to mind when people think about design software, but after this product, that might be changing.
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