Is it Possible to be Everything to Everybody?

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 As I hinted in my last post here, a rather large 2D web project has been taking my focus away from 3D initiatives lately. That project is a redesign of the home page of Dell.com.

How can one single web page be a big project?  When it's a page that gets more than 35 million visitors a week.  When it is the subject of some of the most popular posts on IdeaStorm. When that one page is the entryway to both a corporate and a commerce site. When it must appeal to everyone from individual consumers to large corporate clients, from institutional investors to mainstream media and citizen journalists. When it has to be a place where a student can research a company for their freshman business action lawsuit, and purchase a computer upon which to write that same paper.

This is the challenge faced as we roll out a  beta test of a new design today in the United States. Canada will follow next week. More regions will offer the beta in the future. Here's how it will work: 20% of visitors to Dell.com over the next week will be randomly selected for this beta test. 10% of that test audience will see the page as it is today. The other 10 % will see the redesigned page.  We will then compare clickstream data and basic metrics from those two groups to determine if the new page works or not.

How will we know if it works? If customers tell us it is easier to find the right level of information they need-whether that means finding support for existing products or researching information for future purchases, or adding to the conversation. We don't want to be an Irrelevant Corporate Website. To us, that means integrating community sites such as this blog, the Dell Community Forum, StudioDell and more. Customers like jorge are telling us the same thing on IdeaStorm.

Click on the image below to see a larger version of the screenshot. 


What the redesign doesn't do is what many have voted for—eliminate customer segmentation. We still believe segmentation offers benefits for the customer and here's one reason why: when we have discussions with customers many of them say they dislike being asked to segment themselves when they begin shopping on dell.com; but, many also tell us that they use technology in very different ways and have different needs.  An example of this is a recent survey of small business owners and decision makers conducted by Dell and the International Council for Small Business.  This sort of feedback went into the development of the new Vostro line of notebooks and desktops, as well as the suite of services designed specifically to support small businesses.  As Dell continues to differentiate the products and services we offer our customers, segmentation will begin to make more sense to site visitors.

So, if you visit Dell.com over the next week and see the new design, feel free to click on the "feedback" link at the footer of the page to let us know what you think.  Or, you can come back here and share your comments on this post.  I look forward to hearing even more opinions on this challenging page.

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19 thoughts on “Is it Possible to be Everything to Everybody?

  1. Is there any way to check out the beta page besides refreshing the page til one gets it? Would that even work, or do you keep track of IPs to keep the page consistent?  

  2. How about you review the metrics on customer satisfaction when you don’t deliver what they paid for until two months down the road. 

     How much do I care about your new website?  I feel like you ran me over with a car, leaned out the window, and asked what I felt about the new paintjob.

  3. That’s cool, I design for the web so I’m always into stuff like that.

     

    More importantly however, where’s the latitude xt tablet? 

  4. I was really hoping that Dell would do a site where you can pick and choose what you want to see rather that having it forced on you.  I’m interested in XPS and Latitude notebooks and rarely will I look at the Inspirons unless I’m helping a friend who wants something cheap.  I would love to go in and set it up so I see the equipment I want and leave the rest out unless I choose to look at it. 

     The new home page does look much better except for the small Dell Community link that looks like an after thought and the same boring links at the top right.  My only other question is Did you fix the Government section so I don’t have to jump through as many hoops to get the employee purchase site?

     Next can you work on making it so I don’t have to go to 3 different sections to find the lowest price on the same exact system?

     

  5. Nice! I like the new look.

     I don’t like being off topic, but I have to agree with Ryan.  Can you give us an update on the Latitude XT? I’m really in need of a tablet, and letting us know specs and/or release date would help me decide if I should hold off and buy from dell.

  6. Laura, I think the decision not to eliminate the forced segmentation on the web site demonstrates that Dell still doesn’t get it.  Sure, we all use technology in different ways – so why not help me pick the right product based on product features rather than your arbitrary categories that make it harder for me to evaluate and compare your products?  Your explanation doesn’t stand up – “we  know you don’t like it but too bad, we know what’s best for you.”  I think you missed a big opportunity.

     

  7. Jake – to keep things totally random and try to ensure we have a statistically valid sample of users, we’re not providing a public way to skip directly to the new site.

    Ed – interesting idea. As we expand our retail intitiatives it’s certainly something we should consider. Thanks for the feedback.

    Jervis961 – another team is looking into more options for customization and personalization of our web site. Many of the ideas are still a ways down the road, but we are certainly looking at how we can make the experience more personal. Also exploring ways we might make it quicker to reach employee purchase programs, so keep watching.

    Chris – if this new design tests well in our initial betas (US/Canada/Latin America), we’ll also test in Europe.  The goal is to find one site that works globally, so the experience will be the same for our customers worldwide.

     

     

  8. One question and one comment:

    Does the new web design fixed tha appalling failure rate of the current one.By my count Dell could have sold me at least 5 laptops if the current site had not had fatal errors that prevented completion of a transaction.

    Regarding segmentation: the issue is not that segmentation is not sensible, but simply that it should be about the use and related specification  of the  machines rather than the owning business type. I buy a laptop for personal use because the office provided machines are insufficient. I find it incomprehensible that I have to look in multiple locations  on the Dell website to find the various top of the line models for comparison. Segment by functionality not by stereotype of business ownership
     

  9. it seems a lot of effort is being put into understanding what customers want to do with the website (a very good thing) while ignoring the single thing that they consistently say they want (a very bad thing). specifically, dell is still forcing to try to figure out whether their business needs are interpreted by dell as one of a particular customer segmentation.

     

    as an option, dell could create an alternate website that completely removes customer segmentation and instead describes what business needs each product meets. the customers would then be free to find the best match for their particular business need. this is very important for small & midsize businesses whose needs don’t fall into neatly described partitions and (usually) cross all-sorts of boundaries. why not get the fluff out of the way and give the customers the power to decide what products meet what they want themselves rather than trying to figure out how dell may interpret what they say they want and end up gaming the system.

    it seems to me that an ancillary benefit to this will be that gaps in the product lines (i.e. business needs that are not yet being met because they have not been identified) would become more readily apparent and could help to spur additional growth.

  10. Yesterday I received a phone call at home at 11:20 in the evening from Dell.     The woman wanted to do a survey about how I viewed my interaction with Dell on a disk drive problem earlier in the day.   I  told her that it was 11:20 in the evening, which is too late for a call.    I was polite.   She, however, just hung up on me.  If Dell is really interested in customer satisfaction, I recommend that Dell not call people at home at 11:20 in the evening.   I also recommend that Dell employees not hang up on Dell’s customers.
     

     

     

  11. I have 2 optiplexes, a poweredge and a dimension.  Sometimes I get classified as a business, sometimes as a consumer.  I am not a business.  I an customer.

    There will always need to be categories.  I am not sure what the categories would be.  I think it would be an interesting discussion. 

     Allen
     

  12. Well the segmentation could be done otherwise, i don’t like it how it is currently done on a per product basis.
    If i am a normal customer and want a Vostro or Latitude, let me select this anyway!

    Please make a redesign not only by workflow changes but also by webdesign changes. Dell.com needs to look much more modern (current cluttered page is so ugly)! Get rid of all those design glitches (some graphics too big, no clear line, problems with internationalisation (different fonts used in different countries, texts too long to fit into design, text snippets in wrong language…). Care more about design details. Get assistance by professionals such as frog design…

    And also get better designers for your programs which you ship with your products. The design is often unclean and lacks style. (apple or others do that much better!)

  13. Categories or segments are indeed an “interesting discussion” as Allen puts it, so let’s see what we can do to facilitate it here and to try to explore some of Paul Banres’ and Randy Novel’s ideas . . .

    In order to find out how you intended to use a product, we’d need to ask some questions – i.e. I want to watch movies while traveling, or I need to connect five computers together in my office, or I want to lower power usage in my data center.  But how many questions would you want to answer before you got to a product?  How many clicks would a visitor make before becoming frustrated?

    There are an enormous amount of products and services available through dell.com, and I fear that many might go unnoticed with this sort of entry point to the site, as well.  But, I could be wrong.  Let’s keep the discussion going.

  14. I think most people wouldn’t be annoyed of the segmentation if it was only in terms of services, not in terms of product lines.

    For example: I am a so called “Home User” but I want an Optiplex machine because it fits my needs in style and performance – why do i have no choice section of this product line in the home user – instead I have to choose the small office section  at least to get to the product i want.

    I know, people can get confused by too much choice, so it would be okay, if you first hint me to traditional home user product lines on specific landing pages. You should however give me the choice to buy other product lines in the home user section too, if I want to.

    Now it is a pain for me to calculate – for example – a Vostro 1500 or Optiplex for home usage because in the small business section you don’t see the VAT included to prices – i always use windows calculator to get the current price (yes, i know, VAT is included in the basket, but not during configuration progress).

    From a business user perspective: I want a new Inspiron 1520 because I don’t like the looks of the Vostro 1500, but I only get it in the Home User segment, which includes VAT during configuration that is not needed in case of a company.

    As for the product segmentation, i’m talking about current offerings in Austria… 

  15. CORRECTED VERSION: 

    I think most people wouldn’t be annoyed of the segmentation if it was only in terms of services, not in terms of product lines.

    For example: I am a so called “Home User” but I want an Optiplex
    machine because it fits my needs in style and performance – why do i
    have no choice of this product line in the home user section – instead
    I have to choose the small office section to get to the
    product i want.

    I know, people can get confused by too much choice, so it would be
    okay, if you first hint me to traditional home user product lines on
    specific landing pages. You should however give me the choice to buy
    other product lines in the home user section too, if I want to.

    Now it is a pain for me to calculate – for example – a Vostro 1500
    or Optiplex for home usage because in the small business section you
    don’t see the VAT included to prices – i always use windows calculator
    to get the current price (yes, i know, VAT is included in the basket,
    but not during configuration progress).

    From a business user perspective: I want a new Inspiron 1520 because
    I don’t like the looks of the Vostro 1500, but I only get it in the
    Home User segment, which includes VAT during configuration that is not
    needed in case of a company.

    As for the product segmentation, i’m talking about current offerings in Austria…

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