Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Digital and Social

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

Tags: , , ,

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!

Tags: , , , ,

Nothing to See Here: A Look at Recent “Invisible Changes” to the Cisco Support Site

In the past few years, we’ve seen customer satisfaction with the Cisco Technical Support site experience steadily increase, yet we also hear customers and partners say that they don’t notice many differences in the site itself. Is that a happy coincidence? As users, are we just more likely to notice what’s broken, and not what’s improved? Bill Skeet, Manager, User-Centered Design for Cisco.com, has a better explanation. I’ve invited him to the blog to share his forward-thinking strategy for improving the support website, and to highlight some of the real differences that you may not have noticed. 

bskeetBy Guest Author Bill Skeet

As we manage the Cisco Technical Support site, we make it a priority to make things easy so you don’t waste your time. That means we are constantly changing the site and launching improvements that will help you find what you’re looking for so you can complete tasks as quickly and easily as possible.

For instance, we’ve improved site search, added new sections and pages, streamlined tools, and tweaked link labels and terminology to be more understandable.

What? You didn’t notice?

Well, that’s not a surprise. We’re always talking to our customers and partners, and we know that many users have not noticed changes.

Here’s an example – at our annual Cisco Live! conference, we often recruit attendees to participate in usability tests. We hear numerous comments from these customers about aspects of the site that they had not noticed or seen before, even though that feature may have been released months previously. Our web logs, however, show that the changes have already been used and adopted by users. Read More »

Tags: , ,

You Can Observe A Lot By Watching.

Usability Testing at CiscoLive!

Usability testing a support mobile page at the NetVet lounge with NetVet Mike Williams.

Recently at CiscoLive!, we spent a full week with customers and partners doing in-detail usability tests of Cisco.com and some of our mobile sites and apps. This is one of the main methods we use to make our web and mobile easier.

What’s a usability test? Something different than you might think. While you’ve probably heard of other research techniques like focus groups and surveys, usability tests and listening labs are a way for us to learn through observing how people use our sites: We have someone sit down in front of the screen and ask them to do a task that they would in their real work day. This could be solving a support question, researching a new product, finding the right download, investigating a new API, or any number of other things.

Here’s the difference between a usability test vs. a focus group or survey: In a focus group, a facilitator often throws out an idea or scenario and gets a group of people to comment on it. The people in the room will tell you what they might like… they will build on others comments… they may give you some great ideas! But, you won’t really be learning by observing. You won’t understand the kinds of things they will actually do in real life, because you’re asking them what they think they would do. You aren’t observing.

But when we observe people using our mobile apps or web sites, we can see lots of things. For instance:

  • We can see the areas that trip them up (even if they report to us that the experience is just fine)
  • We can see the areas where they’re getting the wrong result (even if they think they’re getting the right one).
  • Or sometimes even technical problems that we see and can troubleshoot, but they can’t.

We recommend running usability tests or listening labs at multiple stages for major projects:

  • At the beginning of the project – when you want to understand current state and also look at how competitive or best practice sites and apps are doing.
  • In the middle – while you’re still developing, and direct observation and feedback can make a huge difference
  • Before release – so you can catch any last-minute problems
  • After release – because sometimes when outside factors and environments affect the app or web experience in way you can’t expect (for instance, how and whether people can find your site topic on Google or other search engines, and how they interact with the results).

Even though this sounds like a lot of testing, there are some new techniques you can use to get real user feedback very quickly – within hours or days. I’ll talk about that in a future post.

Meanwhile, keep testing. And, remember baseball legend Yogi Berra, who said:

“You can observe a lot by watching!”

Yogi Berra

Tags: , , , ,

Watch #CLUS Keynotes directly from cisco.com

Have you ever wanted to go to the cisco.com home page and see what John Chambers is saying right at that moment?

Well, you’ve probably never had that exact wish, but that’s what we’ll be offering home page visitors starting on Monday, May 19th.  During the Cisco Live week May 19 – 22, visitors to the cisco.com home page will be able to see a live broadcast of Cisco Live events direct from San Francisco.

We’ll turn on the video feed Monday afternoon just before John Chambers’ keynote, and will continue to broadcast all Cisco Live events through Thursday afternoon as they occur.

Highlights include:

    • John Chambers keynote, Monday at 3:30 pm
    • Rob Lloyd keynote, Tuesday at 10:00 am
    • Industry keynote – IoT, Wednesday at 10:00 am
    • Guest keynote – Sal Kahn from Kahn Academy, Thursday at 10:30 am

You can find the compete list of Cisco Live keynotes here.

Watch Cisco Live Keynotes directly from Cisco.com

Watch Cisco Live Keynotes directly from Cisco.com

This is the first time we’re showing a live video feed on our home page.   We will be syncing up our publishing updates with the Cisco Live event schedule, so that the video player is available when the keynotes are live.  This means we will be publishing the home page 10 times during the event, making for a busy week for my team back at the San Jose HQ.

Cisco.com is Form Factor Friendly

Our home page uses a “web responsive design” approach, which means it adapts its layout according to the user’s viewing environment.  This allows us to provide an optimal user experience to users on desktops, tablets and mobile devices.  All visitors will need to click the “Play” icon in order to start the video, and the video player detects connection speed and display the appropriate video stream for the user.

Tablet view:  Watch Cisco Live Keynotes on your tablet directly from Cisco.com

Tablet view: Watch Cisco Live Keynotes on your tablet directly from Cisco.com

 

Mobile View: Tablet view:  Watch Cisco Live Keynotes on your tablet directly from Cisco.com

Mobile View: Tablet view: Watch Cisco Live Keynotes on your mobile directly from Cisco.com

 So if you’re browsing around on cisco.com during Cisco Live week, check out the home page and click the “Play” icon to see Cisco Live in action.

Be sure to mark your calendar with must watch keynotes, find out more about Cisco Live:

You can also follow @CiscoLive on Twitter and follow the #CLUS conversation.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,