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Kudos to a microsite that really isn’t one

There’s a great article on Search Engine Land that gives an overview of our ūmi home telepresence area, and, probably unintentionally, underscores the strategy we followed in our new design system:  Create a system that’s flexible enough to create “microsites that aren’t really microsites.”

For those who don’t know, a microsite is a separate small web site that companies set up to focus on a specific topic or promotion. For instance, a soft drink company might set up a microsite around a specific promotion it is doing around a sporting event.  The advantage of a microsite is that it is very focused, so there are no distractions from a bigger corporate web site. It focuses on a single topic and place.

But there are usually big disadvantges, including these:

  • Microsites usually aren’t connected at all to the main company site, which means that users who need more information can be lost. Or, if they go to more supporting information from the corporate site, they’re off into a different navigational space and may never be able to find their way back.
  • Microsites often have a completely different domain from the main company site, which means search engines often don’t associate them with the parent company, and that can hurt their ranking when people search on Google, Bing or the other search engines.
  • Microsites can be expensive to create and maintain, since they usually involve inventing a completely different design system and then maintaining separate templates, content and infrastructure.

So, when we set out to create a new design system for Cisco’s web and mobile sites, we had an express goal of supporting something that would have all of the advantages of a microsite, but with none of the disadvantages.  I was heartened to read Search Engine Land review, which thinks we’ve succeeded:

From a user experience perspective, it is a stand-alone property. And that’s important here because people interested in Umi—a high-definition video conference system that hooks up to your TV and broadband Internet connection, for spread out families and long distance relationships—are intrigued by a very specific solution.

They’re probably not weighing a decision, “Should I buy this or maybe check out a new firewall?” So Cisco has eliminated almost all non-Umi distractions.

The basic templates we use for everything from ūmi home telepresence, to home networking, to Borderless Networks are similar, which means not only a consistent experience for our visitors, but also a lot less reinventing of the wheel for us.  But, since the templates can support a “walled garden” idea such as the one we’ve adopted for ūmi home telepresence, we can have the advantage of a microsite too.

One way we tie everything together — while still allowing it to be separate when needed — is with the simple idea of hover navigation over the logo. And, regional navigation along the top bar (for instance, for the home-focused site area) helps visitors navigate to related products. You can see related implementations of the same navigational model on, our blog site, and you’ll be seeing it on many other of our site areas over time.


P.S. Here are some pictures of the ūmi site.

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Cisco ūmi Gets a Taste of New York

We ♥ New York! Why else would we choose to stop at the New York Wine Expo on the Cisco ūmi “Get Together” Mobile Tour? If you’re going to be in or around New York City this weekend, we encourage you to stop by, not only for the excellent wine tasting, but also for a chance to see the magic behind Cisco ūmi. Friday, February 25 through Sunday, February 27, the ūmi Mobile Tour van will be stationed at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center near the Lincoln Tunnel.

While perusing the booths of more than 190 wine producers and sampling more than 760 products, take a break and get a taste of Cisco ūmi. This consumer telepresence system isn’t “flat,” “harsh” or “cloudy.” It provides a “big” experience with “sharp” features and a “strong” finish. With a camera that has pan and zoom capabilities sitting snuggly atop your HD television, ūmi allows you to video chat with family and friends as if they were sitting in your own living room. And with the ability to send and receive video messages via ūmi, you can attend events like the New York Wine Expo knowing you won’t miss a call from loved ones. They can leave you a video message!

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NBA All-Star Jam Session 2011: Name That NBA Player Over Cisco ūmi

On Day 1 at the NBA All-Star Jam Session, we had hundreds of fans come aboard the Cisco ūmi Tour Van to play “Name That NBA Player Over Cisco ūmi!”

Fans were put on both sides of the tour van and asked to match the photos and names of as many NBA players as they could in 24 seconds. Families and friends anxiously awaited to compete against each other to see who could walk away with bragging rights!

Check out this exclusive video to see their experience and to hear reactions of fans after they demoed ūmi.

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Cisco ūmi Warms Up for the NBA All-Star Jam Session

The Cisco ūmi “Get Together” Mobile Tour is on the move again! This time, we’re headed to Los Angeles for NBA All-Star Jam Session 2011! As an Official Technology Partner of the NBA, we’re excited to be a part of this four-day event that brings together NBA players and Legends with their biggest fans.

In between shooting hoops, swapping stories with other fans and shopping for NBA All-Star merchandise, stop by the Cisco ūmi “Get Together” Mobile Tour van. We’ll be camped out February 18 – 20 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, demonstrating how Cisco ūmi works and allowing you to connect with your favorite NBA players in high def on a big screen television. We know how tall NBA players can be, but don’t worry! Cisco ūmi lets you zoom in and out and pan the room so you won’t miss any of the action as you chat with them.

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Cisco ūmi: Staying in Touch with Loved Ones

This article was written by Jeffrey, one of our Cisco ūmi users.

These days, it seems as if staying in touch means putting families further out of touch. With email, cell phones, texting, etc, we have begun to lose the real value of a meaningful face to face conversation.  Over the course of my testing with Cisco, it has been made very apparent to me, that they aim to change that in a radical way.

My wife and I have always been close to our families. However, most of our family is scattered across the country. With our closest family being over 1,000 miles away, it has made it extremely difficult to keep in touch the way we would like to. The ūmi system has brought the much needed face to face time that our families have wanted for a very long time.

With ūmi, our parents can now see their grandchildren grow literally right before their eyes. The periods of time between actual visits seem much shorter now because every day, we can talk with our family as if they were sitting right in our living room. The full 1080p resolution makes it actually feel like they are sitting in our living room.

For my family, a majority of our use will come from talking with family that we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. Keeping that connection is extremely important to us, especially when it comes to our children. Now our children have the chance to see every single one of their relatives, not just from a picture. Establishing and maintaining that bond is something that ūmi will help us do.

Overall, ūmi has brought an immense amount of joy to our family. With communication being a key factor in our lives, Cisco has stepped up to the plate and far exceeded our expectations on what it means to stay in touch over long distances. It has brought many smiles to not only my face, but the faces of my children as well. It is those smiles that will remain in the memories of everyone we talk to using ūmi, and Cisco made it happen.

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