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Speaking your language

July 14, 2010 - 4 Comments

Sometime little changes in wording make all the difference.

Here’s an example. We recently added the word “Documentation” to the the fly-down menu for Support on the home page. On that same fly-down menu, we also added a mention of configuration guides and release notes. A simple change, but it signals that documentation is available in the support area.  “These words and phrases are common in a customer’s lexicon and signal that there’s technical documentation there,” says Bill Skeet, who is User Experience Manager for our online support experience. “These labels were previously absent from the site, even though tons of actual technical documentation is of course there.”  

The old menu, seen below, had no mention of documentation or related terms. We realized that the absence of these trigger words made new customers work harder to find the right information, and reduced their ability to accurately predict what the next click would bring. Imagine you were looking for technical documentation using the old menu, and you can see how it might give you pause:


The small changes on the new menu are much more explicit: With an additional emphasis on  docs, here’s what that new menu looks like:

“When customers come to a web site looking for information, they bring a vocabulary of words and phrases, accrued from their wealth of experiences on other web sites and elsewhere in life,” explains Bill.  “With that in mind, these subtle changes to the menu make some materials on the support site more evident.  “

Placing the proper words on the site, in the right locations, is one of the most important aspects of designing a web site.  We expect there are more opportunities to improve labels and text on the site and will continue to make these almost-imperceptible-yet-important changes to the site.


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  1. The word Documentation really has a very strong association with detailed information and help about a subject. Another similar word that is gaining recognition in last few years is Wiki””, maybe due to the popularity of the free encyclopedia.”

  2. This article is interesting, especially for me who was just learning to expand the market through the web and blogs. Difficulties that often happens is that the use of appropriate language in the web content. I suggest that there are other articles like this are more into technical problems in marketing over the web.

  3. Bravo Martin!Giving documentation its due. Glad you’re at the helm of these design decision for Cisco.Lisa

  4. Thanks For me i like World Languages