All Music Guide redesign disaster

All Music GuideFrom the “redesigns that made things worse” file comes the brand-spanking new All Music Guide redesign which just launched today. There were a lot of problems with the previous site, and I had much hope that this redesign would improve what I think is one of the most useful sites online.

There are so many problems with this redesign I literally don’t know where to start.

The first warning that things are not going to be smooth sailing is a gigantic warning if you access the site using anything but Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher for Windows. This warning appears above the fold and highlighted in bright yellow for maximum visual dissonance:

Notice: You are accessing with a browser that is not currently supported. The appearance and functionality of the site could be impacted. is optimized for Internet Explorer 5.5 and above for Windows.

What is this, 1999?

The dreaded javascript links that the old AMG site used to use (eg.: <a onclick="z('11:1s620r1ac48x')">Wilson, Jackie</a>) are still present. I have no real idea why they would insist on using Javascript links, except possibly to defeat people from accessing site content using external modules like WWW:AllMusicGuide. Who knows?

This is more than a big step backwards for interface design and web standards, however: The information architecture has been overhauled for the new site, and has now made AMG’s great content almost inaccessible. Site usability has been thrown out the window.

On the old site, accessing an artist’s AMG page would display such information as a brief bio, discography, compilation appearances, singles, etc. all on one page. All of the basic information a visitor might be interested would be compiled together, with links off to more detail (e.g. complete bio or discography).

AMGOn the new site each information chunk is now on its own page, and requires you to click on different links to access each one. If you want to view an artist’s discography, it has been subdivided into Albums, Compilations, Singles and EPs, and other links. The artist’s AMG “home page” now just displays the bio and a huge list of “artists like this artist”.

Clicking through to a particular album’s review is even worse. Instead of displaying the entire review for that particular album, you just get a short summary and must click on a “more” link to read the entire review. More useless clicking.


Considering the incredibly poor site performance (30-40 second page load times, server time outs and hangs, etc.) which I don’t expect to improve much if the site’s previous history means anything, this division of information is even more jarring and makes the site almost unusable.

AMG is possibly one of my favourite web sites, and is definitely one I use on a daily basis. The fact that their content is so amazing makes this hack job that much more frustrating. This is easily one of the biggest redesign disasters I’ve ever seen. Who is responsible for this mess?

Recommendations for improvement to follow.

Update: AMG has posted a message to its users regarding the redesign. They obviously don’t get the browser support thing - this would actually save them money in maintenance, page load times, bandwidth savings, etc… but I’ll hold my Nitpicky Wand for a bit and see what they do. Apparently they’ve already removed the browser compatibility message, so that’s a start.

Update #2: SitePoint does a AMG case study. Andy Baio also has some good discussions on AMG on his site.

ISSN 1499-7894
Recent Posts
Contact Archives Web Love Writing Photos FAQs Home