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New Design for’s Support Area

October 2, 2007 - 1 Comment

Over this past weekend, the Support area adopted a new navigation model we call “Task Based Navigation.” We think this is an easier way to get around the support area, and this model is well suited for an audience that performs discreet tasks regularly as part of their jobs. We’ve been testing it over the last few months with lots of our support customers, and some of you saw it in person at our booth at Networkers.Here’s how it works: Say you are starting with a specific task, such as downloading software. First you click on our download icon, and then an interactive chooser appears allowing you to zero in on the specific product you need the download for. The same model works for troubleshooting, maintenance or configuration. The idea is to ask support visitors for two pieces of information, their intent/task and the product, then show all relevant resources. There’s a neat Flash demo showing everything, and here’s a picture of the page:TBN-SupportPage.jpgBy contrast, what is support navigation like when it isn’t tasked based? Think of a patient going to the doctor’s office and being asked as the first question: “What would you like, a tablet, a syringe or physical therapy?” Of course, a typical patient’s answer would be”I have no idea!” But on many support sites, the navigation isn’t exactly oriented to tasks and products, and users start trying different random actions hoping for the best. The new Task Based Navigation mitigates this guessing game by showing all relevant resources for a task by product combination and therefore narrowing the choices to a manageable set.By the way, the system is a bit “smart” in that it remembers your settings throughout the session: The task and the product selection variables are set globally so that that the rest of your experience during the current session defaults to them — that is, we don’t have to keep asking the same questions over and over. Other models built based on asking users to select an info type — which often times don’t correspond to an intent — lead to frustration because users end up trying different types and each time having to specify the product repeatedly. Based on all our user research and analysis we feel this approach will serve our customers well, but we will discover how well we are hitting the mark in the next few weeks. Please send us your comments as you try the new system. – Abdul Halabieh (posted by Martin Hardee since Abdul is on a well-deserved vacation!)

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  1. This is really nice work. The demo is very good at illustrating the new experience. Congrats to the Cisco team!