MSN Testing Simple Search Oriented Homepage
MSN is beta testing a new homepage which takes a simplistic approach to marketing MSN services, MSN Search, and other MSN partners to their user base. The new beta design takes the Yahoo and Google approach of centering the page around the search engine, with large dominant search boxes featured at the top and bottom of the screen. Currently on the Firefox browser the MSN Beta page is not loading correctly with little boxes overlapping one another on the screen. The page on IE, however, is working just fine.
Gary Price at Search Engine Watch posted a screen capture and noticed a similarity to the Start.com project; “The page incorporates the same type of customization “modules” currently seen at Start.com. One module (not working when I tested) allows you to add local news headlines to the page by entering a Zip Code or city name.”
The new beta page actually made me want to open the Internet Explorer browser for the first time in about a month to preview it. The personalized homepage offers a lot of white space with a Yahoo-esque feature of different links to MSN Channels or categories. Hotmail, Messenger, and MSNSpaces are all featured on the page with MSN News Alerts, Shopping, and CityGuide.
Right below the personalized login box is a picture of a kid throwing something at the camera with the caption “Fun Food to Fly : Mashed potatoes don’t fly well. No pudding in muffins. Ever. Why cornflakes are boring.” Obviously some alien code.
The pic must of course be an internal personal thing with the developers, but the left side placement is interesting as it seems to be more or less the space for advertising – which is usually placed on the right side of the screen by other portals (Yahoo for instance).