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Usability Testing with Customers Everywhere

One of the things we do relentlessly at Cisco is to test how easy it is for you, our customers, to use our web sites and products. It’s called “usability testing” and in the old days it would all be done in person, which a research expert and customer using a web page or software interface in one room, and observers (from the web team or product team) in an adjacent room behind a two-way mirror. For instance, we might ask you to pretend you were interested in replacing your phone and communication system in your company and then have you go to the web to observe how you’d go about researching that topic. We would be watching attentively in the back room to learn about what works and what doesn’t, and how to make your task easier. In the past, I have even on occasion traveled to other cities to do tests with local folks outside of the Bay Area. It was a good way to meet a diverse range of customers, but expensive! In the last two years, we’ve done a record-breaking number of usability tests. But increasingly, we are saving time and money and extending our reach by doing the tests using online collaboration tools: Thanks to tools like Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, we can now test our web sites with customers from across the US and indeed around the globe. The customers, and many of the observers are all remote from the scene. And we can test complicated scenarios we never would have dreamed of attempting in a single lab setting previous. For instance, below is a picture of a test we ran recently where we were testing interaction between (remote) customers, (remote) call center reps, and (remote) Cisco partners who were working with the customers. Pretty much the only “local” San Jose, California people involved were the ones you see in the picture, who were all observers of the test. image WebEx is a favorite of usability experts, because it lets them reach out to customers across the globe and also allows the user to view and control web site protoypes or software applications that are in your test enviornment (that is, you don’t have to push your test site live or make the user install your app). Some companies I know are now doing 95% of their usability testing via remote tools. In preparation for a talk I am giving next week on this subject, I asked some trusted colleges for pluses, minuses, and tips for remote usability testing. Here’s some of their wisdom.

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Redefining the Role of the Network within Your Green IT Efforts

Written by Mark Leary, Manager – Network Systems Solutions, Cisco SystemsLooking for a new experience in Second Life? Drop by our Cisco Second Life campus and visit our new half-dome”Sustainability Center” among the trees. We have exciting news to share with you about how you can reduce energy costs and Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions using your network as a platform for change. We can all reduce travel and daily commutes by collaborating in virtual environments, but there’s so much more we can do in this networked world. Teleport via the below link after 10 a.m. Pacific Time on January 27, 2009 to learn more: Visit the Sustainability Center in world via this SLurl.Or register to attend our online 30-minute webcast,”Cisco: Driving Toward a Greener IT,” to discover how you can drive greater sustainable prosperity by redefining the role and reach of your network infrastructure. The webcast goes live on January 27, 2009 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.image

Sometimes You Do Need A Landing Page

In a follow-up to my post of a couple of days ago about microsites and landing pages from our home page, I should probably offer our just-launched Five Ways to Thrive page as a counterpoint. It’s is a self-contained landing page — linked to from the home page — focusing on five specific ways to thrive in today’s economy:

  1. Save now to invest for the future.
  2. Empower employees to collaborate and innovate.
  3. Get closer to your customers to better serve them.
  4. Outpace your competition with collaboration.
  5. Work better globally with a borderless enterprise.
The “Get Started Now” button on the home page…imageLinks to this simple landing page that explains the five ways to thrive:imageThis is a good example of how different landing experiences can co-exist in our home page design: This one is a standalone landing page that works gracefully alongside the other integrated Flash “microsites within the home page” that I mentioned in my last post.P.S. There is a really nice 0% interest offer also on the home page right now, if you haven’t noticed.

Human Network Moments

Notes from Janet* add picturesA quiet day makes catching up with the inbox so nice – Pinasse Telemedicine

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