A dog’s breakfast: welcome to apple.com

Help. I feel queasy. I visited apple.com and did something I deeply regret—I opened my eyes.

It’s half disappointment and half disbelief. How does the company that wrote the book on website simplicity unleash a home page that’s so amateurishly busy?

For those who celebrate Apple’s illustrious history as a world leader in design, creativity and smart marketing—it’s a shocker.

That’s because it stands in stark contrast to the website principles enforced by Steve Jobs.

In Steve’s world, apple.com had to be in sync with the current ad campaign. Customers were driven to the website by advertising, and the home page continued that conversation. No distractions allowed.

Three small panels below the main image allowed for secondary messages, but in general product managers had to tell their stories on their landing pages.

This is how apple.com has functioned for the last 20 years.

The current home page doesn’t have a single focus. Or two. Or three, four, five or six. It literally promotes ten individual products. It’s the very definition of a dog’s breakfast.

Lighten up Ken, Apple has way more products to talk about today than it did a decade ago!

It sure does. But does it have way more products than it did last month? Or last year? When it became a trillion-dollar company?

Even with a growing portfolio of products, apple.com has remained a model of clarity—allowing visitors to dial into the product they want. It has never tried to sell every visitor on every product.

What’s changed now?

Either someone with dubious design and marketing skills is now responsible for the home page—which is outrageous, given its importance to the Apple experience. Or a high-ranking Apple marketing official (Phil, is that you?) has directed the web design group to execute this strategy—which is equally outrageous.

I’m searching for a less outrageous possibility, but coming up empty.

I don’t believe in trotting out the “What would Steve do?” line. But I know from experience how Steve reacted to creative ideas or executions he didn’t like.

One of his most insulting reactions was, “I guess you put the B-Team on this one.”

That’s pretty much how I feel when I look at the Apple home page today. Nice products—but I wish the A-Team hadn’t taken the day off.