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Yes, a New Cisco.com Home Page

We’ve updated the design of the Cisco.com home page. Not just because we wanted to, but for you. Here’s a point by point overview, starting with the desktop/laptop version:

Home Page Desktop May 2015

  1. Same top of page navigation. We’ve keep the same top of page categories, and “mega menu” navigation, as these work very well today. (Yes, we’ll continue to tune these every so often as we have been.)
  2. Quick Tasks. This new element is based on your feedback about your most important regular tasks on journeys on Cisco.com. Since these items are most important to you, we figured we’d put them front and center for easy access. Expect these tasks to evolve over time as we learn more about how people are using them. And, in the future we’ll have different top task lists for Partners, employees and other roles.
  3. The “marquee.” This graphic at the top of the page is a staple of corporate home pages, and we actually toyed with several designs that eliminated it. But in the end, in our testing and reviews, we found that it actually serves a pretty strong purpose to orient visitors and cue them to big announcements or happenings. One innovation: We are personalizing this area, so that over time you may see something different than your neighbor (and more relevant to you).
  4. Let Us Help. We’ve added a linkage to chat online or call so you can get information about our products, services and solutions right from the home page. This follows scrolling down the home page, in a way that we hope is unobtrusive.
  5. Product showcase. Visitors to our site love products, so we’ve opened up a space to showcase featured products. Here, we have used a “carousel” approach because products have enough of a draw to get active engagement (notice that we dropped the carousel we used to have above on the marquee. But here, we think it adds breadth.)
  6. Products link. There’s a prominent link to a newly designed “All Products” page.
  7. “Offers.” Folks in marketing call these “offers” but you can think of them as showcased items that may be of interest specifically to you. We personalize the list based on what you’ve expressed interest in previously.
  8. Watch this space. This is a space for more information that we’ll be experimenting with over time.
  9. News. The new news feed is easier to read, and shows news and announcements from Cisco.
  10. Blogs and Communities. Some of the most interesting information from Cisco is on our blogs, and the content all of you contribute in our communities. This new component gives us a place to showcase these fresh topics right on the home page.
  11. Social sharing. Those social sharing widgets you’ve come to expect on home pages. (This would be a great time to share the new home page if you like it, by the way. :)  )
  12. The “fat footer.” We’ve made no changes to the fat footer on the page, which has been very effective and helpful and gets 4-6% of the click-throughs on our pages. One question we had was whether visitors would click through, with the longer page. Based on our early usability testing, the answer seems to be yes, and people seem quite engaged in scrolling when they are drilling down to the information they’re looking for. We’ll be watching the metrics on this area carefully to make sure it’s still “discoverable” and well used.

The Smart Phone View

For the mobile view of the home page, the it’s the same information, but rendered slightly differently:

Home Page Mobile May 2015

  1. Same header and menu. We’ve retained the same header and “hamburger menu” as before, as it’s been working well
  2. Let Us Help. The same linkage to chat online or call, but in a more compact form for mobile.
  3. Quick tasks, in a more compact form. Interestingly, this text only version tested very well for phones, but got lost on the page for the desktop view, so we used icons on the desktop and text for phones.
  4. Featured Products, in a more compact, swipable form for mobile devices.
  5. News feed in a compact form.
  6. Blogs & Communities in a more compact form.

Thanks!

Thanks to all of you who participated in the multiple rounds of testing and have also given use feedback in the last many months – if not years – on your needs for Cisco.com.

P.S. If the last version of the home page is a distant memory, here’s a picture of it:

Earlier Home Page

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Focusing on customers’ top digital journeys

I’ve often written about how we optimize to our Customers’ and Partners’ top journeys across our web sites and mobile apps. We’ve found that focusing relentlessly on the top things that visitors do with us online (versus following the latest cool digital fads) helps us stay grounded.  Customers and Partners drive their own journeys, and we’re reminded of this every time we run a user test with them or  look at the analytics from our sites.

Following this “top tasks” approach, we’ve been able to raise usability scores in key areas like Support by as much as 65 or 70%.  And, in areas where we still have challenges — as all sites do, by the way — the focus on top tasks keeps a spotlight on the work we have ahead.

I mention this again because usability luminary Gerry McGovern has recently published a nicely detailed overview of our top tasks approach on Cisco.com. It’s a great inside look at the process we follow, and is a great read if you’re interested in quality improvement or customer satisfaction in the digital space.

The techniques we’ve followed here for web sites and mobile also apply more broadly to omni-channel experiences, of which digital tasks are usually core. We’ve been exchanging notes with teams in other companies around this topic of measuring top tasks and journeys, and would love to hear about the experiences from you!

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Mobilegeddon: Are you Ready?

You may have seen the news about Google changing their seMobile-Searcharch algorithm to account for ‘mobile-friendly’ results. Excitable folks in the news media are portending significant shifts and swings in search results, with some fortunes dashed, primarily due to the fact that those websites that are not responsive (those that do not re-size and re-configure depending on whether a desktop versus a mobile phone is displaying them) will suffer.

For reference, even just a few shifts in position for a consumer site or keyword can mean millions of $$ in revenue. Yet, the exact ‘weight’ that Google has applied to mobile friendly sites in their rankings is not public, nor are some other details.

The good news is that we have been aware of this change since February.  Knowing that 99.5% of mobile users will not proceed past the home page if it is not responsive web, we have been taking ‘mobile-first’ very seriously within Cisco.  As a result, all new web design and publishing over the last year-and-a-half has been built with a responsive, mobile first framework.  In addition, we’ve prioritized the pages and areas within Cisco.com and are converting templates, designs, and content to be mobile-responsive based on traffic and importance.

The challenge is that there are still legacy portions of Cisco.com that are not yet mobile friendly. This includes many of the product pages within the site (although 5000 product support pages are mobile-optimized).

We have a long way to go until all 500,000 Cisco.com pages, across all 85 country sites and 45 languages, are mobile-friendly. But we are making steady progress and moving forward by maximizing the  resources available while ensuring the highest quality digital experience.  While we are methodically moving these pages to a mobile framework, the long-term solution is to redesign and rebuild these pages with mobile in mind from the beginning. Until the transformation is complete, we estimate a 3-5% reduction on SEO traffic to these pages as a consequence of today’s Google change.

If you manage a web presence, you’ll want to move to a mobile-friendly responsive web design and implementation.  If you consume search and websites from a smart phone, you might notice a change in Google results and a more rapid conversion and broader availability of mobile-friendly web content. And if you are using Cisco.com specifically and need some assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out via click-to-chat or click-to-call functions on our pages (look for one of the following types of “contact us” or “let us help” offers).

LUH1 LUH2

 

Focus Magazine Explores the Future of Energy

If you could look into the future and get information about when your car might break down, or your water heater leak, you would probably find it very helpful. The information would allow you to take care of any potential problems before they actually develop. Many industries are now taking advantage of this kind of predictive knowledge, made possible by sensor technology, which allows for remote monitoring of assets. Read More »

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What Makes Engaging B2B Social Content

Why do you login to your various social media accounts? Is it to be entertained by videos and images? Catch up on the latest news in your industry? Engage with colleagues? My hunch says you do all of the above.

Nobody has time to sift through every piece of content on social media though. We quickly scroll through our feeds, bypassing updates that do not grab our attention. So how do we as social marketers create content that is not ignored? Here are some absolute musts for creating engaging B2B social content.

The content must be a balance between entertainment and education

Let’s look at marketing content as a spectrum. On the left we have lengthy and boring technical data sheets and white papers. On the right, we have funny videos, memes, and other amusing pieces. While we all need to push the left content to our audiences, we need to incorporate aspects from the content on the right to grab our audience’s attention. The middle of the spectrum is where we as B2B social marketers need to be.

Gary Vaynerchuck writes in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, “If we want to talk to people while they consume their entertainment, we have to actually be their entertainment.” But not only is our B2B audience looking for entertainment, they are also seeking information and new insights so they can be ahead in their industry. Some examples of good content for this include infographics, informational short videos, and visual SlideShare decks of key highlights. We must strike a balance between informative and entertaining content, such as the examples below.

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