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Some Nice Updates To Cisco.com Search

April 17, 2012 at 10:03 am PST

You may have noticed we did some updates to Cisco.com search in the last week.  Here are some highlights:

  • Custom # of results. Here’s an important feature for Cisco.com power users: We’ve added the option to change the number of search results displayed from the standard 10 to your choice of 10, 20, 30 or 50 results per page:

  • Status on support community items. Cisco Support Community forums content now show question status, rating, and number of replies within the search results

  • Product synonyms help findability. Added product ID synonyms to Software Download and Forums, Blogs, and Wikis

  • Improved Web Accessibility by implementing tab order and focus on Search Results page, including skip links
  • Updated advanced search page functionality
  • Additional tuning on results.

Enjoy!

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#1 Kudos for Cisco.com

February 10, 2012 at 9:06 am PST

Web analysts SiteIQ have just ranked Cisco.com among business IT sites, tying with our friends at IBM.com, and beating out 22 other sites for the honors.
SiteIQ noticed the many subtle improvements we’ve been making across the site in the last year: “[There] is hardly a space on this site that one can’t notice a single, although quiet, improvement. This relentless march towards optimal usability is exactly what gained Cisco.com its first place ranking—and made IBM.com share the spotlight.”

I know there’s a lot still to do to make Cisco.com into the best in the world, but nice mentions like this certainly boost our resolving to keep driving to that end.

See the SiteIQ blog for more on their rankings.

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A few recent Cisco.com search enhacements

January 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm PST

We made some updates to the search experience on Cisco.com recently.

1. Created US Product/Part ID (PID) synonyms – Makes it much easier to find products by Product/Part ID by  suggesting queries related to that PID.  By the way, you guys do a lot of PID searches — this helps make them much better.

Example: Enter PID ‘10000-1p2-1ac’ and search will provide you the option of “You could also try this related product: “cisco 10008 router”

2. US spell checking – Improves your experience by suggesting other queries if the system detects a misspelling.

Example: Enter a misspelled keyword ‘routr’ and search will provide you a “Did you mean:” optional keyword ‘router’

3. Clickable synonyms – Improves your experience by suggesting other similar queries without automatically including them in the search results.

Example: Enter keyword ‘cisco acl’ and have clickable synonym options presented for alternate search results

4. Verb lemmatization – Wait, what?  Oh, that’s the thing that provides results for variations of a word (install, installing, installed).

Example: Enter the term ‘install’ and search will also return results for ‘installing’ and ‘installed’

Enjoy!

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Cisco.com Updates Cover The Walls

December 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm PST

You may have noticed updates in various areas of Cisco.com over the last few months. For instance, the new Cloud area, or the updates to our support menus and navigation. Even though in our team we normally work all electronically, we decided to keep a running set of improvements, components and templates on one of our walls.  It’s nice to see all of the red “Delivered” labels!

We’ll be writing  about some of the specifics here in coming weeks.

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When constraints are a blessing

October 17, 2011 at 9:33 am PST

A curse of any project is that moment when you look at the objectives to be solved, and realise that the rules or resources seem too constrained for success.

But sometimes, those constraints — which are so vexing early on — can be a blessing in the end.  A case in point is the new Series and Model pages we’ve recently updated on Cisco.com. Originally, we had all kinds of grand ideas for how these pages should be transformed. But then we looked at the underlying systems that create the pages, and realised the grand ideas would be expensive to implement and time-consuming to maintain.

So, we dropped back. We asked ourselves: “What is it we’re really trying to accomplish for customers with this update?”  Some of the answers were very simple:

  1. Make the most important information quickly available (by putting it at the top of the pages)
  2. Highlight product comparisons, where they’re available
  3. Make the pages easier to scan visually
  4. Make the fonts bigger so things are easy to read
  5. Make basic spec information quicker to read

We realised we could do all of those things without an expensive rewrite of the underlying system. So, instead of a massive engineering project, we focused instead on new content standards and some CSS tune-up work.

You can see the result of items 1 and 2 and some of 3 above on all 7,000+ series and model pages. And, we’re beginning to roll out updates that address items 3-5 (making things easier to scan and read). Here’s an example from the Cisco Catalyst 2960 Switch series:

The simple changes we made with links to comparisons, embbeding spec tables, using bigger fonts and creating streamlined layouts were focused on things we knew customers needed in their daily use of the pages.  Constraints in the underlying system, it turned out, were a blessing because the constraints made us focus on those few things.

You can see additional examples of the updated layouts on these pages:

Enjoy!

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