The Home Page

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Let’s talk about the home page of Many of you have commented about things you liked and things you didn’t like. Here are four of your abbreviated comments to my first post:

“Make it easy for me to define systems by my work profile and give me more guidance on what technologies could benefit me more than others. If I’m building it, I’m then likely to buy more”

“Why don’t you just show me the different products and I’ll decide if I want to use it at my office or my house.”

“The removal of enforced segmentation high up in the buying path is the first step, it’s 10 years overdue frankly. It is not however gone, but that is a larger internal organizational problem that Dell has to overcome.”

“To combat the poster above, I decided to see if I could find the drivers for the Dell I’m using right now. It took me about 10 seconds. I like the new homepage interface.”

No question about it. We still have plenty of opportunity for improvement. But I ask you, is the new version of the home page better than the previous version?

Determined to get to the heart of what bothered you about our former home page, my team spent hours with customers, conducted numerous focus groups and created countless versions of the home page design.

Three themes emerged in much of the feedback:

1) Simplicity. It was too cluttered; too many choices.  Home page was overwhelming.

2) Show me the products. There were no products on the home page. None.

3) Avoid segmentation. Don’t force me to segment myself.

Seems simple, right? It’s just one page—how hard can that possibly be?

The challenge is that this page is the gateway for how customers interact with Dell. With the volume of traffic that comes through that page—and the amount of business that is conducted—any redesign efforts around can’t be taken lightly. After 6+ months of testing and user feedback, we implemented the design you see today.

The new page is less cluttered than the previous one. Maybe not as clean or usable as Apple’s site, but we remain focused on designing our site around the increasingly complex needs of a growing range of customers.

I believe Apple’s site is well designed. It also does a nice job incorporating a consistent masthead. But is a different Web site designed to serve different customer needs, and, I think, possibly harder to design and manage (but that’s for one of my future posts).

The previous version of the home page forced you to pick what type of user you were and guided you within that segment. Products became secondary. Many users have provided feedback that they preferred to navigate by products. We made some changes, so you can now navigate by products initially, but we still ask you to identify what ‘segment’ you best represent.

Why? Just show me all the products you offer and let me decide . . .

Seems like a fairly easy thing to do… Can’t be that hard, right?

Unfortunately, it is a bit more complicated than just changing links. When you call Dell on the phone we have specific phone numbers depending on your customer type. This way we can offer you the right product, the best solutions & accessories, and the proper warranty/services coverage for your system.

We think this creates greater value by providing information that is relevant to your specific needs. Having said this, we will continue to look for ways to simplify the site experience… our work is not done.

Home pages can be sacred territory, but even some of the most popular undergo a change (see Yahoo!). There are some compelling and usable home pages across the Web. Howerever, many more are still way too busy and feel overwhelming.

So, tell me, what you think of the home page of Is it better or worse?

About the Author: Manish Mehta

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