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Some Solutions Pages

I thought I’d point out some new page designs on that should make it easier to find and understand information about solutions from Cisco. First, there’s the new main Solutions page, which is a one-stop starting point:


(Note that we’re trying out different versions of this page, so the version you see may differ slightly.)

You’ll also start to see some rich pages with extensive details on specific solutions, tying together products, services and more. A great example of this is the Cisco Unified Access solution page:


(We’ve blurred some of the content at the bottom, because it’s just available to Partners and select others. But it shows how a good design can support specific personalized and entitled views. We’ve been following this entitled approach regularly in product and solution areas, because it means we can offer extra information to specific audiences, without going the old fashioned route of building and maintaining separate microsites.)

Nice work by our design, publishing, and content teams!

Tags: , , , phasing out support of some old browsers

All good things come to an end, and on we’re planning to retire our active support of some old desktop browsers in the new year. Specifically, we’ll be stopping active support of Internet Explorer versions 8 and 9.  These browsers almost qualify and Internet antiques, having been launched in 2009 and 2011 respectively. They both have excellent alternatives now, including newer versions of IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

The majority of pages will continue to work fine into the foreseeable future, but we won’t be diligently debugging against IE 8 and 9 has we have done in the past.

Use the comments below to let the team know of any questions, compliments, or concerns you have on this update.

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Yes, a New Home Page

We’ve updated the design of the 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 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 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

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 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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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, 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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