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Death {of,by} Toolbar

February 24, 2011 at 7:30 am PST

We got some spirited input from many of you about the toolbar on the bottom of Cisco.com pages.  While you can collapse it to move it out of the way, a number of our visitors have asked that we remove it all together. Our own tests have confirmed that it’s more of a problem than a benefit.  So, we’re removing the toolbar from Cisco.com in mid April.

In the meantime, you can click on the arrow on the toolbar to collapse it. It will stay collapsed until the next time you delete your cookies.

Expanded state:

Expanded Toolbar

Collapsed state:

Thanks for sending us all your feedback to make Cisco.com a better site.

P.S. The toolbar saga is an interesting one, and at some point in the future I will post a long story about the design and project lessons that we learned from it.

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WebEx.com Gets a Nice Update

February 22, 2011 at 6:10 am PST

Visitors to WebEx.com will notice the site has been updated recently with a brand new look, including streamlined navigation and page designs. In style and format the site is now more similar to Cisco.com, using bright saturated colors, the same page width, and many identical elements.

The new design and structure will make it easier for visitors to find information about WebEx products:

  • A simpler navigational structure replaces previous complex menus.
  • Product and Overview pages are more visual, easier to scan and read, and rely on screenshots and videos to illustrate ease-of-use, features and benefits.
  • The “How To” section with short video clips and a new webinars section—Together@WebEx—are both accessible directly off the top navigation bar.

The new site is a first step toward other improvements in the works. WebEx.com is now on a platform that enables quicker updates and ongoing user experience enhancements. Over the coming months, content on the site will continue to be updated and optimized to address the needs of a variety of visitors. And new subscribers will see big improvements in a simplified purchase process, too.

And last but not least, European visitors will see similar makeovers on WebEx European sites, coming later this year.

Oh, and, as you probably know if you’re a WebEx customer, the online service itself gets new features and improvements regularly.

The new online experience took many months for the WebEx.com team to conceptualize, design and test, and involved groups within the Collaboration Software Group Online and IT teams, and Cisco Solutions Marketing. It was fun collaborating with the designers on WebEx.com as we worked on some of the common design elements across Cisco’s sites.

Enjoy!

P.S. Thanks to Amelia and the WebEx.com team for the pictures and notes. It really was great watching this update come together!

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Home page tune-up

February 15, 2011 at 6:53 am PST

It’s a little thing, but over the past couple of weeks we’ve done some tuning up of the Cisco.com home page:

  • It loads faster
  • Menus and other interactive functions become active more quickly
  • A few tweaks for iPad users

Enjoy, and let us know what you think.

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Gotta love PacketLife’s subtle design touches

February 5, 2011 at 11:19 am PST

One thing I really like in web designs is when even the smallest elements of a site are kept in context to the subject. For instance, all of the error pages on RockBand.com have beautifully rendered rock performance themes.

A subtler example is the anti-spam challenge for comments on PacketLife.net’s pages. Most sites have a ReCAPTCHA or simple math challenge. By contrast, PacketLife offers questions that are contextual to the subject matter of the site:

(I only point this out since you’ll never see these challenges if you’re a regular PacketLife visitor and stay logged in all the time.)

P.S. And, how many bits long is an IPv6 address? That’s a number we’ll all be quoting a lot in coming months, I predict!

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Creative Lessons from JibJab

December 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm PST

On Cisco.com we usually won’t do anything with quite the entertaining production values of JibJab’s latest year in review (a romp through US political headlines of 2010). But it turns out that our rich media design process at Cisco has a lot in common with JibJab.  I know this because the JibJab team took time to put together a fascinating behind-the-scenes commentary showing how they created their latest video.

What struck me especially is that the basic process they follow at JibJab is similar to what we do on Cisco.com when we’re creating more business oriented online demos, conceptual overviews or training. It’s standard great design practice:  Creating a brief, then writing a script, then storyboarding , then laying the audio tracks, potentially creating animatics to show how the resulting video or Flash piece will be, and then animating or doing full production.

Whether it’s the demo of the Cisco FlipPRO camcorders, or the adventures of IT Willis, we go through pretty much the same journey with scripting, storyboarding, etc as the folks at JibJab.

Of course, we explain these steps every week to our internal teams at Cisco, as do countless design organizations in every company and organization around the globe. But the folks at JibJab have captured the design process in a really interesting format that lots of people are likely to read.

Here are a couple of samples from their design process overview: An example of a storyboard, and a puppeteering session:

One difference. At Cisco.com and most other web sites, the teams don’t get to play with puppets, which looks like a lot of fun.  I’m jealous.

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