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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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Feed Your April 1st Appetite with These Retro Pages

It’s fun seeing some of the quirky examples of home pages on web sites today, including Amazon’s retro “April 1, 1999” page.

I can’t think of a time we’ve ever done anything like that on, mainly because we don’t want to distract customers from the jobs they’re coming to do with us.  But, if you are craving some old school pages, here are a few:

1992: Cisco Information Online (CIO) – Telnet/Modem Only:


1994: Cisco Information Online Web Site:


Mid-1994:  Cisco Information Online Web Site Stellar Motif:


1995: Cisco Connection Online (CCO):


1996: Cisco Connection Online (CCO):


Prize for the best comment below.

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Yes, Responsive Design Really Helps

One of the most consistent challenges in designing for your customers’ digital experiences is understanding what things they’ll be doing when, which in turn governs what device they’ll be doing those things on. Will it be on the couch with a tablet? On the go with a smart phone? At work on a laptop?

On the Cisco digital team, we do a lot of research and planning on this very topic, and have found that some tasks are very time/device specific (such as looking up appointment information or background information on your phone right before a meeting) while some are more broad and could happen anywhere, such as checking product information or searching. To illustrate this better to our teams internally, we put together a storyboard to illustrate how our customers and partners use multiple devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones) within the course of their day when interacting with us and each other. Here’s a panel from it:

What this doesn’t show is that there are also “could happen anywhere” cases. These are often the most mundane of things, but important ones. For instance, our login page on receives more than 2,000,000 visits per month. But when we took a look at the mobile part of the login experience, we knew something had to be done!

The most obvious problem with this page above is the teeny tiny type. And then, to use it, you have to stretch and zoom to get the fields big enough to even type into. It was, as we euphemistically say in the tech biz, “suboptimal.”

One solution would have been to create separate login designs for large tablets, small tablets, phones and desktops. Instead, we chose a smarter way, using Responsive Design, which I have blogged about previously: We used one “smart” code base that adapted the display for the size of the current device. The result was very simple and very nice: A clean login page we launched recently that retains its normal behavior on the desktop browser, but shrinks to fit for tablets and smart phones. It’s a simple example of where Responsive Design saves time in deployment because we could write the code once and put it through one development and test cycle, rather than creating three or four different experiences and having to develop and test them all separately.

Responsive design doesn’t solve every problem — and there are many, many experiences on mobile that need to be designed specifically for venue and device. But use responsive design where it helps save time and money, and can provide some consistency in basic behavior.

Thanks to our mobile, design, and IT teams for pushing this out. Enjoy!

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Awards Don’t Matter – Right?

I used to be the sort of fellow who eschewed design or leadership awards for web sites. I figured the true measure of success is seeing the sites used every day for Customers and Partners answering their questions, assessing the right product fits, communicating with their colleagues on forums.

I still take awards with a grain of salt, but we’ve gotten several mentions lately for, so I thought it would be worth a brief recap for the following reason: These awards not only reflect our team’s hard work here at Cisco, but also your participation. They show:

  • How you’ve helped us achieve excellence (or strive for it, at least) with your regular participation in comments to the site and in our 1:1 usability tests that we do around the globe via WebEx.
  • How our team has worked diligently to continuously improve our web, social and mobile experiences, based on your input.

Here is  a list of some of the accolades we’ve gotten lately, and then I promise I’ll stop bragging for a while:

  • As Bill Skeet just blogged recently, our Online Support experience recently won the “Ten Best Support Sites” award from the Association of Support Professionals (ASP). And, Cisco was awarded the 2012 Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) STAR Award for “Best Online Support” for the fourth year in a row.
  • Cisco recently won an Award of Distinction for our Brand Identity System, which includes the web site. The scope of this one included Cisco brand guidelines, along with brand assets such as, navigation, photography, icons, templates and more.
  • is a 2012 Webby Honoree:  Official Honoree distinction is awarded to the top 15% of all work entered 10,000 entries received from the US  and more than 60 countries.
  • And, our Cisco London 2012 website has also been selected as an Official Honoree of the 16th Annual Webby Awards in the Corporate Communications category.
  • Cisco won a bronze ADDY in the AAF-Silicon Valley ADDY Competition. This award is for our new Brand Identity System which includes all of the standards for the web, mobile and social venues. The ADDYs are arguably the world’s largest creative competition, with over 60,000 entries each year nationwide.
  • Cisco’s Connected Life Exchange blog was honored at @btobmagazine Social Media Marketing Awards. In the article, the writer says “The whole package is refreshingly non-promotional and often fascinating. Cisco continues to innovate in the suddenly red-hot field of content marketing with an approach to thought leadership that emphasizes actual thinking.”

And, I already mentioned these, but they bear repeating because these focus on coverage and usability:

Our digital teams don’t think about awards that much; but we do think about you and how you use our web sites, mobile and other digital experiences every day. And I like to think that focus has translated into some of the recent accolades.

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Some fine-tuning to “Megamenus”

This is minor so you might not have even noticed it — or if you did, we hope you noticed it in a good way!

This weekend we made some subtle changes to the timing of those interactive  “Megamenus” that are available from all pages. We made the change because after some extensive usability testing, we found that some of the original interaction timing struck customers as too “jittery.” So, we have made the timing more purposeful.  Let us know what you think.

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