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Beta, Beta, We Need More Data


Just wanted to give everyone an update to my last post about our home page redesign project.


The metrics from our first beta in the U.S. and our subsequent beta in Canada were both very similar.  And we got some great feedback here on Direct2Dell, in IdeaStorm and through a special focus group. 


One of our goals was to better integrate and bring visibility to our online community initiatives for which we <shameless plug> just received a Forrester Groundswell award </shameless plug>.  We also wanted to bring additional learning content forward, and the number of people reading that content during beta definitely increased.


More visitors were engaging with the web site for a longer time, however not as many were purchasing in some areas of the site.  That in itself is not a bad thing because we want people to spend time on the site even when they are not coming to buy anything.  Even venerable researcher Nielsen has replaced their “page views” metric with one that tracks time spent at websites.  It could be bad, though, if the reason purchases were down is because you couldn’t find what you wanted.


So, we made a few tweaks — mostly image changes — and today we launched another beta in the U.S. This time at a 50/50 split, so the same number of visitors will see the beta design as see the current-style page. 


Once we’ve determined that these changes have the effect we were looking for, we’ll do a full launch in the U.S. and Canada.  Then, we’ll begin rollout in Latin America, Asia Pacific and last of all our Europe, Middle East and Asia region. The reason for a rolling launch is because each region and country is unique and we want to make sure we tailor to meet their needs, while also providing a consistent look and feel for users worldwide.


Not all of the feedback we received was able to be incorporated into the design this quickly.  But, that doesn’t mean we won’t be making more changes.  In fact, the changes could continue forever — maybe we’ll be “Always in Beta” like the Critical Mass team were at the Forrester Consumer Forum this week!

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