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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 »

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You Can Observe A Lot By Watching.

July 4, 2014 at 9:46 am PST
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

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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.

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Cisco.com #tbt #throwbackthursday

April 24, 2014 at 8:45 am PST

Cisco.com circa 1996.

CDC-1996

(I will brace myself for the “bring it back!” comments. :) )

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On Cisco.com password changes

Last week I published a brief blog about the OpenSSL heartbeat extension vulnerability, also known as the Heartbleed bug.

One commenter asked, “What about the Cisco.com website? Is it safe to change our passwords on the site?” We received a handful of similar questions from customers today, so I would like to offer our formal advice.

The Cisco Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) has not found any Cisco.com infrastructure that was vulnerable to the Heartbleed vulnerability. There is also no evidence to suggest a compromise of Cisco.com user accounts.

You are safe to change your password by visiting the Cisco.com profile management page – in fact regular password changes are something we actively recommend.

Regardless of the website you are visiting, use of a strong password and regular password changes are an important part of online safety. If you are looking for more password advice, we recommend the following US-CERT security tip: Choosing and Protecting Passwords.

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