They're aren't many things I'm unwilling to admit to enjoying — Barry Manilow, Cracker Barrel and Fruit-of-the-Loom Sesame Street underwear, to name a few — but for some reason I feel odd about liking Antiques Roadshow (perhaps because I'm not a retiree drinking hot tea with lemon while watching on a 20" black and white RCA TV). It's human nature to want something for nothing, to find the best deal and make as much money as we can.


Go to any elementary school cafeteria and you'll see a version of Antiques Roadshow unfold before your very eyes. The lunchroom trade — wherein one boy trades his peanut butter and jelly sandwich for stale Chips Ahoy cookies to another boy who trades that for a Fruit Roll-Ups. We love to find treasure. To happen upon something which we think is worthless that someone else believes is gold. We also love to have other people take our garbage — and somehow get them to pay for it at the same time.


Tapping into that basic natural instinct, eBay taps our inner garage sale super hero. A place where people haul out all their crap from the basement and try to tempt you (in what I call competitive auction-eering) into paying more than you should. eBay is a quintessential brand and a pillar to the worldwide internet for more than 12 years. Its no surprise that during that time its web structure and design has undergone many changes, and until recently has felt out-of-date and overwhelming with the amount of equally weighed content.


The largest challenge for eBay is to present the plethora of items to users with the ability to quickly and easy find what they want. Whereas many current sites use the "Web 2.0" technology as a fancy mask to their lack of content, eBay takes advantage of the technology to show more, with less (employing simple javascript elements such as a scrolling gallery, hover-over "tooltip" call outs, etc).


The site is a modified 3 column grid, with the traditional left sidebar (for categories, browsing and sorting) and main content area. The site effectively distributes the brand colors of blue, red, yellow and green throughout the layout, without drawing more attention to graphic elements and "boxes" than the content itself. Perhaps a bit heavy on the tired and overused rounded corners (to break up the "box" look inherit the markup of the web) as well as unnecessary gradients (a person pet-peeve) but with a distinct delineation of information. Sadly the bottom half the page fails, as many website do, to give a proper "ending" the site. Things slowly fall apart, awkward columns that go on and on, and a footer of text links that drags on like a run-on sentence. No closure, just tired "let's just get this stuff up there".


It would be easy for eBay to throw as much information, lead-in, teaser content on the homepage, but thankfully they've exercised restraint and kept the homepage easily digestible, navigable and functional for its purpose and genre.