Microsoft’s purchase of Razorfish was supposed to usher in a new era of usable interface design. I had used Microsoft live.com in the past and found the interface was actually pretty decent. A sort of modernized version of Google with some simple thin line divider tabs and subtle color usage to designate relevant content areas. But It seems now they’ve gone the opposite extreme direction. After months of supposed major enhancement this was the design they came up? Take a look below.
live is now lame

I am all for a simple clean interface but this has gone to the extreme of literally no design elements to enhance the usability at all. Just a strange white box with a search field and links that you’re not even sure are actually links all floating aimlessly in this void. There’s also a buried personalized link in the lower right that I totally missed while tiny advanced search features and options are barely visible in the upper right. Then there are these other weird advertisers text links for MSN messenger. Based on it’s verbage I thought the link would explain to me how I could use MSM to do real time searches in MSU and results through a network of instant message users. Like a live Twitter-ish search of MSM messages of my friends and have it highlight the search term I was looking for. But nope, it just sends me to MSM homepage with no explanation of how that correlates to live.com services at all. Lost opportunity.

I will give props to Microsoft that the search generation is faster now than it used to be but they sacrificed some usability enhancements and general aesthetics in the process and I’m not sure that trade off was worth it. I also like the related searches and related images on the results page though it doesn’t always correlate well to what I was looking for. So remember you can sometimes go a bit too minimalist in your design and basically have no useable design or layout at that point.
 

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