Apple likes to be seen as a cutting edge technology company. Part of the reason that the brand has so many devoted fans across the world is that it consistently pushes the envelope when it comes to design. This is the company that gave us the iPhone and the iPad, paving the way for a handheld technology revolution. The last thing it wants to do is become stale or start to look like it’s behind the time in terms of web trends, so it won’t let it happen. Without giving any warning, Apple has launched a significant redesign of its online store. If you log into the company’s website today, you’ll find it looking very different to the way it looked the last time you saw it.
The new look came after the site went offline on August 3rd for roughly one hour, prompting customers to take to social media and speculate about a DDoS attack. As it turned out, the website wasn’t under attack. Within the space of sixty minutes, Apple managed to tear down the old site and replace it with a shiny new one. The new design is top-heavy with features and images. You’ll find links to most of the products you might want to buy from Apple running from right to left across the top of your screen. Clicking on them takes you to new dedicated pages for the product you’re interested in. Effectively, each product now has its own micro-site contained within the larger Apple website. It takes some getting used to if you’re someone who spends a lot of time shopping with Apple but based on early feedback, most users consider it an improvement.
One of the first thoughts we had on seeing the new site was a strange one. Rather than looking for comparables to the online stores of any of the company’s rival firms, we found ourselves reminded of online slots websites. That comparison isn’t as odd as it might sound at first. The idea of pages within pages with image-driven links is the standard template for most successful online slots websites. When you load OnlineSlotsUK.com for the first time, you’ll notice that almost all the space on its homepage is given over to a selection of its most popular online slots. If you click on any of them, you’re taken to a new page that details all the features of specifications of the slot and (of course) the slot itself to play. A lot of time and money has been spent researching the best way to build an online slots website, as persuading people to spend money quickly is crucial to their success. Other industries have started to look to their design for ideas on how to move customers from browsing to buying rapidly, so it makes sense that we see elements of their design beginning to appear elsewhere.
If you think you’ve seen something that looks like the new Apple homepage before, but you’re not an online slots player, it’s probably because you use the company’s App Store on your phone or tablet. There’s a definite focus on the “mobile-first” approach, with sliding menus that are designed to scroll horizontally. Apple has also brought in “cards” and “slides,” which is a curious move because that’s precisely what Microsoft is attempting to get away from with the latest version of Windows. The App Store is a controversial issue for Apple at the moment because of the various ongoing court cases that relate to their commission fees, but that won’t affect anything on the new Apple site. The page is there specifically to sell the company’s products and services, with no space given to anything created by third parties.
Speaking of products, you probably won’t find anything on the new page that you haven’t seen before. This is a reshaping of the structure rather than the addition of a new range of products. There are various new Apple products in the pipeline – not least the next version of the iPhone – but we don’t expect to find out any more about them until September at the earliest. That’s the month that the company has targeted for new product launches in the past, although there were pandemic-related delays last year. It’s not yet known whether those same delays have affected product development for 2021 and beyond, although we won’t have to wait long to find out. If you’re in the market for a new MacBook, iPhone, or even just some next-gen AirPods, you should be able to get your hands on them soon.
The company website is likely to become more important for Apple in the future. While the company once had a big presence on the high street (and still does in some parts of the world), there are signs that it might be changing course on physical stores. Several hundred stores were forced to close due to pandemic restrictions in the US and Europe. It’s been rumoured that some of those closures might become permanent. That makes sense if Apple feels that it can make as many sales through its website as it can in person, but it could cause issues for people who rely on Apple Stores for repairs and accessories. The company operates a mail-based repair system, but it’s usually slower than going into a store and isn’t as popular with consumers. Given Apple’s notorious dislike of third parties carrying out repairs on its hardware, it might need to consider new avenues for customers to access repairs as and when necessary.
Such is the size of Apple that people pay close attention when they make big changes like this. The company is hugely influential, so stylistic changes they make will probably be copied by other tech firms across the sector. Just as Apple took inspiration from elsewhere in putting the new site together, other firms will now take from Apple as they seek to modernise their look. Long, scrolling vertical websites are slowly becoming things of the past. Horizontal scrolling and image-driven media are now in vogue because they’re kinder to people who navigate their way through content using their fingers. Nothing stays the same forever in technology or web design, and Apple’s decided it’s time to usher in a new era.