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Using walkthroughs to prevent web experience meltdowns

This past weekend, I enjoyed a couple of very straightforward and simple online shopping experiences. But, unfortunately, I also endured some really bumpy ones. Which led me to wonder: Doesn’t everyone in the digital world know about doing walkthroughs before a launch?

Walkthroughs are a very simple way of previewing experiences so you know what they’ll be like when you go live. They’re like a dry-run of the experience that you can do early in the development process.  Here is how it works:

    1. Figure out the common paths through an experience. (For instance, one that I saw this week on a consumer site was to sign up for a promotional program: It started with an ad, led to a landing page, which went to a Facebook page and on to a sign-up form [which turns out is too many steps, but that was the flow, so that is what you would walk through].)
    2. Mock up a placeholder page for each step. If you have a small team that’s in one place, you can just draw with pencil or pen; if your team is more distributed, pop some fake screens into PowerPoint or another online tool so you can share via WebEx.  If parts of the web site or mobile screens are already built, use those.
    3. Then, in a small meeting, have someone pretend to be the site visitor, and step through the experience. Make sure someone takes notes about missing steps, messages you want to get across on specific screens, what the main calls to action should be, etc.

      The picture below shows what it’s like if you walk through the steps posted on a wall. We sometimes do it this way at Cisco, although more often we set up WebEx Meeting sessions so and walk through web pages or PowerPoint mockups. But the idea of walking through sequential steps is the same.

      A walkthrough is a great focusing exercise because it gets everyone to focus as a team on what the end customer will see, and a lot of petty or political issues melt away once everyone is focused on the end experience. On a big project, you should walk through many key scenarios and repeat until you get it right.

      I can’t remember a walkthrough I’ve done where something wasn’t caught. And catching problems before launch is much better than having thousands or millions of people experiencing them live.


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      Are you saving tons of time with My Cisco?

      The folks who run our online programs for our Partners team showed me some interesting charts the other day. They show that Cisco Partners are savings lots of time using My Cisco and My Cisco Workspace.  If you don’t know, My Cisco is kind of like a central dashboard that follows you around (as a menu) on, and that also has a full workspace page.

      My Cisco is especially popular with Partners, who can access their deals and quotes, find events, check training and certifications and check Partner news – and access all manner of information that previously was locked up in separate tools.  Instead of navigating to individual tools for each new task, Partners can go directly to My Cisco Workspace to get this information at a glance on one page.

      Almost half of Partners surveyed say they are saving at least 20% of the time they used to spend with online tools – and some save as much as 50% of their time!

      My Cisco also has many functions for Customers, too, including an array of support-related capabilities:

      • Recent service requests
      • Alerts for updates on software previously downloaded
      • Products recently viewed or visited in the support area (so you can get back quickly)
      • Products and devices that you own or manage (so you can see one-stop documentation, support and alert information)
      • Active support notifications
      • Network bookmarks available from any system you use

      There’s a convenient catalog you can use to choose and customize the functions that you want to keep in your workspace and follow-along My Cisco menu.

      To get to My Cisco, you can access the My Cisco menu at the bottom of most every page. And at the top of most pages there’s a convenient shortcut link to My Cisco Workspace.


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      Paramore Bus Tour Reprise

      Our consumer web sites are overflowing with some great new products — like ūmi telepresence for the home,  Flip video cameras and home networking wizardry. So of course that has meant some of the classic features, like our Digital Cribs series from a few months back, have moved off center stage.

      One of my favorites in the series was the interactive journey through the band Paramore’s  tour bus.  If you’re a Paramore fan — and who isn’t? — you will be happy to know that we’ve preserved the virtual tour of the Paramore bus. Hayley, Jeremy, Zac, Josh and Taylor talk about how technology helps them connect to their fans and made the tech’d-out tour bus a home away from home. And don’t miss the link to the longer video by the band, which is launched from the video icon at the upper right.

      Maybe not quite as high tech as the Cisco Network on Wheels (NOW) bus, but pretty cool!

      P.S. After I watch the bus video one more time, I am going shopping this weekend for a ūmi home telepresence setup!

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      My Cisco to get a new location on pages

      If you haven’t already tried it, I heartily recommend spending some time with My Cisco and the My Cisco workspace.

      My Cisco is available across most pages and provides access to information from business applications you use frequently like recent service requests, networked bookmarks, software alerts, and favorite devices and products.

      My Cisco is especially popular with Partners (who can access their deals and quotes, find events and check Partner news) and all those who manage support. We add new features to My Cisco regularly: Recently, for instance, we updated the Deals and Quotes module, which pulls information from Commerce Workspace, and now allows Partners to customize their view and gives visibility to their Global Deals in My Cisco.

      Currently, My Cisco is in the upper right corner of the screen and the works like a pulldown.

      In a few weeks, we’re going to give My Cisco a new home on the page: It’s moving from the upper right (1), to the lower left, in a permanent floating toolbar (2).

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      Hats off to the Human Network team

      I love the inspirational new videos we have on The new Cisco Together we are the Human Network area demonstrates how video is allowing us to connect like never before.  The site includes video conversations by thought leaders in education and healthcare discussing how technology is changing their disciplines.


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