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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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Some Updates to Cisco.com Product Pages

September 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm PST

You may notice this weekend that we’re doing some updates to the product series and model pages on Cisco.com. These are simple and subtle changes, but we think they’ll make it easier and quicker to get to the information you need.

I’ll write more later, but here’s a preview and a quick overview:

Series and Models Update View

1 -- Pictures enlarge more gracefully, but still open in a separate box so you can keep browsing around.
2 -- Most important links now featured at the top of the page, for easy access.
3 -- Comparisons and other key features made more obvious.
4 -- Facebook Like and other features in a new standard location
5 -- Streamlined Let Us Help and Contact information, which also routes to different places depending on the product and your role.
6 -- All the key support you rely on.

Enjoy — and if you have additional suggestions or notice anything is amiss, send us a note via the “Feedback” link that’s at the bottom of every Cisco.com page.

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Video and Virtualization: Just Another Day at Citrix Synergy

May 26, 2011 at 6:03 pm PST

If what I saw at the Citrix Synergy conference in San Francisco this week is any indication of what will be coming soon, I’d better invest in a personal hairstylist.

With video becoming more and more prevalent on the network, whether it be mobile phones, Cisco Cius and other tablets, IP phones, or TelePresence – there isn’t a question of whether or not video is here to stay. But one question remains: Is your network ready? (And maybe one more question: how does my hair look?)

If your customers haven’t prepared their networks yet, here’s something that might give them the extra boost that they need: Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecasted that videos will account for 90% of network traffic by 2013.

By selling Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI), you’ll help customers prepare for that change. We visited the Cisco booth at the conference and caught up with Cisco’s Operations Director Jeff Platon. He gave us a full tour of the end-to-end VXI system with products that utilize high-definition video.

Watch the full tour:

What else did we see at Citrix Synergy? Read More »

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Diversity is a no-brainer, says Bank of America

“I can’t emphasise enough just how important – and real – diversity is at Bank of America. Everything we do in the company supports one of our core values: inclusive meritocracy. For us, diversity is all about inclusion. It is not just about gender. It’s not just about ethnicity. Here, diversity and inclusion mean respecting and valuing all nationalities, cultures, religions, sexual orientation, economic and social backgrounds and disabilities. By working with our differences, we can develop innovative products for our customers and a unique environment for our associates.” Geri Thomas, global diversity and inclusion executive from the Bank of America Read More »

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