No New Home Page This Year


Well, the numbers are in from our most recent beta test of a new home page design, and they’re not as I’d hoped. While one researcher recently found our web site to be “quite easy to navigate only after several visits,” our beta metrics indicated that changing the home page actually made it harder for returning visitors to find what they were seeking.   

So, we theorized that if we ran the beta test for a longer period, the return visitors would have time to become more comfortable with the new navigation. Thus, a longer beta run would show return visitor results beginning to level out with new visitor results in both the beta and control groups. However, after re-running the beta for twice as long, control continued to outperform the beta group. 

We want to make sure that our customers know how to find what they are looking for on as we head into the holiday shopping season, and these results seem to indicate that the new page does not improve findability. Something  Peter Morville dubbed “one of the most thorny problems in web design.” So, we will not launch a new home page until after the end of this year. 

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5 thoughts on “No New Home Page This Year

  1. Laura,

    Sorry to hear that the new home page didn’t pass beta as it was a nice enhancement if you ask me.  Perhaps this would be a good time to bring an issue back up for debate that has been asked for many times on IdeaStorm. 

    Here are a few links to ideas that should be considered:  Organize sales pages by need.  6 major issues to be fixed by Dell(see item 5).

    Overall I think people are confused by the multiple sites they have to access to find the system they want.  I can understand having specialized systems for different applications but sometimes these systems appeal to more than just your target audience.  The current set up has the same systems on different sites at different prices which forces a savvy customer to configure the system several times to find the best deal from your company.  The problem isn’t with the home page as much as it is with the entire site.  A customer wants to go to the home page and find simple choices:  Notebook, Desktop, Servers, Electronics, Support and Dell community.  When you click on a choice (Notebook) a new page explaining the difference between the models should appear.  Inspiron, XPS, Vostro, Latitude and Precision would all be available via one site so the customer can choose which is the correct choice based on their needs, wants and financial constraints.  There would be no need to configure several times to find the best price as there would only be one site, one price.

    Another issue that customers have with the site and computer shopping in general is finding help making a choice between configurations.  Finding a knowledgeable salesperson is hard enough in a brick and mortar store and it doesn’t exist online.  People want to be able to click on the help me choose buttons and find the information they are looking for but that currently isn’t happening on the Dell site.  If you look at the XPS M1330 sound options and click the help me choose button it discusses regular sound vs software based upgrades vs DESKTOP sound.  How does knowing about desktop sound options help me choose the correct option on a notebook?  The ExpressCard Sound Blaster X-Fi® Xtreme Audio Sound Card option does not explain if it powers the internal speakers or if I have to use headphones.  I would have to go off the Dell website to do research to find out that it is a plug in and would not fit my needs.  The help me sections need to be based on the product you are looking at instead of being a cut n paste thing.  I have also noticed the same issues when looking at notebook displays and being fed information on desktop monitors instead.  This can be frustrating to a customer and reflects poorly on the company.


    I look forward to improvements to the site and wish you good luck with the holiday shopping season.  I have also posted most of these comments into a new idea to get the reaction of the community.  Here is a link to that as well.

  2. Dylan – No, the beta is only visible when it is active; however, I have posted several screenshots on Flickr of what we were testing.  You can view them and add comments at:[email protected]/sets/72157600141989313/

    Jervis – as always, do really appreciate your well-thought-out ideas in regards to improvements.  I’ll talk to some members of our online team about the points you’ve made and the IdeaStorm entry – then get back to you either in here, in IdeaStorm or a whole new blog post.

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