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How do I test thee? Let me count the ways…

The Cisco.com support site is evaluated every day by each user who uses the site. It is also tested through more prescriptive methods, such as third-party evaluations, audits and diagnostic tests. The feedback from all of these is used to gauge how we’re doing and where we should focus our efforts in the future.

These diverse sources of feedback are critical to a well rounded and complete understanding of the web site’s performance.

In the past year, the support site has been recognized by organizations that perform independent evaluations of web sites as a source of best practices. Some of these are professional organizations and carry significant weight in the industry. Others are independent groups that have developed methodologies to evaluate and score web sites and publish their results as a resource. In both cases, we are grateful to have been called out as a leader among peer companies.

The support site is also evaluated by organizations that track product quality. These groups often send auditors who investigate probe the processes that are used in creating, managing and operating the website. These evaluations are extremely thorough and ultimately are a reflection of the website, the products, the people and the company.

Finally, we subject the support site to our own testing in order to track progress.

We conduct user-cenetered research (such as usability testing) on specific features of the site as needed. These studies are variable in frequency and the questions are optimized for the specific research objectives. And we conduct ‘benchmark’ tests which have routine schedules and fixed protocols.

One of these tests is performed every six months and taps many aspects of the site to ensure the basic functions are performing properly. This diagnostic tool is “a mile wide and an inch deep” meaning it does not exercise any specific part of the site in deep rigor, but is more like a check-up to make sure the site is healthy on a macro level. Even so, we get valuable insights from the scores of each individual task and are able to compare scores with previous tests since the test is identical each time it is performed.

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