Cisco Blogs

Cisco Blog > Digital and Social

Conveying Sophisticated Concepts Online

One of the things we walk about frequently on the Web team is how to explain sometimes complex or nuanced concepts in a simple way on Often, we turn to Flash and other rich media to accomplish this. One of the best examples I have seen lately is the Flash and video experience we have just posted on the Eos section of The Cisco Eos software platform was developed specifically to aid media and entertainment companies in developing and maintaining large portfolios of content-rich, community-driven web experiences. As you can imagine, there are many audiences for the product, ranging from Chief Digital Officers, to Web Administrators, to Brand Managers, to Content and Site Developers. Being able to illustrate the Eos platform to those different kinds of users was a challenge, and we chose a persona-based navigational approach:imageClick on one of the people above, and a stunning movie is launched explaining Eos platform functionality from the standpoint of that user. These are a really nice combination of storytelling and demonstration, and really worth a visit:imageP.S. You can embed the individual videos into your blog or Web site, if you’re so inclined.Enjoy!

Hidden Gem: Your Own TelePresence Video

Here’s a hidden gem on A “bake your own” Cisco TelePresence video starring you — or even better, a colleague you want to have fun with.Here is the video my colleague Maureen sent me, having purloined a picture of me from the company directory:(My wife and her friend said they didn’t stop laughing for two minutes when they got it in their email.)image(View the Video)How to Create Your OwnYou can set up your own video and share it with friends (or maybe give your boss a chuckle with a video starring her or him). There’s a button to create your own video on the link above, and you can also get to this from the current home page, by expanding the Collaboration feature item…imageAnd then clicking on the “Who’s the Expert Now – Start Now” box…imageEnjoy!

The Virtual University and Sensor Networks

Cisco Live is once again coming to Second Life, third year running! We will host activities for your participation live on June 30 and July 1, see below for the schedule.imageLooking for technical content? Then Cisco Live Virtual is the virtual destination of choice. In Cisco Live Virtual you can participate in all of the activities offered in Second Life* plus watch technical sessions and interact with Cisco and partner experts in the virtual World of Solutions. Register for Cisco Live Virtual and see for yourself all that this community has to offer. Read More »

All a Twitter Over Twitter in Cisco Live Virtual

So Twitter is everywhere! Obama @barackobama, Guy Kawasaki @guykawasaki, Darth Vader @darthvader and John Cleese @johncleese use it. I know any time I watch any news station a plug to get the latest breaking news via following @blank on Twitter is sure to be shown. Of course @cisco is no exception as we love tools that allow us to connect with our customers and each other anytime, anywhere.To this effect we worked fast and furious to make sure you all can contribute to the conversation on our Cisco Live 2009 activities. Now once you are logged into Cisco Live Virtual you will be able to tweet via the chat status mechanism available in the bottom right-hand corner (see picture for detail) of the Cisco Live Virtual interface or on the social networking link (that launches next week) in the left hand navigation. Read More »

More (and faster) Usability Testing

Earlier this year I wrote about the benefits of remote usability testing. Here on, we routinely use remote collaboration tools such as WebEx Meetings to run tests with our customers worldwide. These tools are highly effective, because they let you reach out to customers across the globe and also allows the user to view and control web site prototypes or software applications that are in your test environment (that is, you don’t have to push your test site live or make the user install your app). Your customers can help you make your web site and products better, and in turn you will make them happier. An emerging trend is fast-turnaround online usability testing. This is a way of doing more, smaller usability tests harnessing the power of the Human Network, via online services that find test participants and record video for your sessions over the Internet.This new brand of remote testing helps with one of the challenges of traditional testing: it takes time to recruit users and set up tests, so even if you’re very ambitious, you can only test functions in big “batches” a few times per month because of the recruiting times, schedule booking, etc. But, as the demand for more effective designs increases, companies need to turn around tests faster and do more of them. Traditional testing — even remote facilitated testing — though very good for in-depth studies, doesn’t scale very well all on its own.Fortunately, newly emergent on the scene are extremely inexpensive services that allow you to test multiple users quickly with a video as an output. One company, “,” offers this service for 15 minute tests at $30/person. I ran a test recently, and here is how it worked:

  • At 6 PM on Sunday, I went to their web site and posted a task: Use to find wireless for your PCs and laptops in your small business.
  • I specified Small Business as the audience, and chose some other demographic information.
  • I paid the fee for the test for two users (usually we would test with 5 to 8 users, but this was an experiment).
  • Less than two hours later I had links to two videos in my inbox that showed the users’ complete browsing experience from their desktops, and included their commentary as they went about trying to find the right router for their company. (The good news was they figured out where to go, but I will say we saw some rocks in the path that we need to clear.)

You can also use this technique as an easy way to test other sites (e.g. Cisco could test users reactions and impressions on a consumer online shopping site, for instance, if we were interested in understanding catalog browsing or checkout behavior). A few things to keep in mind:

  1. If you have a specialized user base (for instance, machine tools experts who visit your web site, or perhaps CCIEs), you will need to “recruit” these users yourself. This may be easy if you have a relationship with those customers, but it’s something to consider.
  2. While it’s easy to set up tests from a mechanical perspective, if you’re doing serious testing you want to have an expert designing your questions. This can be someone from your staff (if you have such an expert), or an outside usability consultant you work with.
  3. You still need someone to analyze the tests. If you don’t have time to watch all the videos and analyze comments, or you aren’t skilled at analyzing usability tests, you probably want to have someone knowledgeable do this part.

The recorded self-tests are just one type of user research available to you, but make a nice adjunct to facilitated WebEx sessions and other remote testing techniques.