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The New Cisco.com | Why Cisco.com’s Latest Redesign is a Stroke of Brilliance

Website Redesign

Last month Cisco released the latest evolution of Cisco.com, and the results are nothing short of amazing.

Visitors taking a quick spin around top levels of the site will notice obvious improvements. The introduction of a more vibrant color palette. Updated page layouts. A new toolbar at the bottom of the page. And, some tweaks to its best-in-class mega-menu.

But these enhancements, while nice, aren’t what make this redesign a step above the rest. The things that make the difference are far more subtle.

Design

2010 | Website Launch | Cisco.com | Home PageIncreased white space. Cisco.com has injected additional space around everything—content panels, images, headers, text, navigation panels—everything.  Benefit: Visitors can scan pages more quickly and easily.

Smarter use of imagery. Cisco.com has always displayed some of the most eye-catching photos of any IT Website, and was pretty savvy about using them. This time around, however, there seems to be fewer of them, and each and every one has a reason to be there. Benefits: Visitors can intuit feature content topics, navigation categories, and target audiences without reading a single word on the page.

Navigation and Architecture

2010 | Website Launch | Cisco.com | How to BuyAll audiences receive equal billing. When most people think Cisco, they think products for enterprise companies. But Cisco also offers products and support for the SMB and Home/Home Office crowd. The latest redesign makes this more obvious than ever before. The global mega-menu provides separate navigation tabs for Enterprise, SMB, and Home audiences. And visitors who missed them there will find them at the bottom of all site pages, and often on second (and sometimes even lower) level pages. Cisco.com’s smart use of tab-top designs and compact navigation styles also makes access to other audience areas easy without taking up much space. Benefits: It informs SMB and Home/Home Office visitors that Cisco.com serves more than just Enterprise companies. It quickly redirects visitors that have wandered off track back to the site areas that best fits their needs. And, it provides greater visibility of all Cisco products—not just those for the Enterprise set.

The “Solutions” navigators are gone, but solutions-class content is not forgotten. Navigation to murky “Solutions” marketing is gone. But this doesn’t mean that visitors won’t get solutions-class content. Now these messages are artfully woven throughout the product and services marketing click streams and content. Benefits: Visitors intuitively identify Cisco’s products and services as solutions to their needs.  Also, visitors understand Cisco’s offerings quicker since solutions and product marketing content is integrated into a single click stream.

Improved “snacking” architecture. The former Cisco.com Website displayed some traits of the highly-effective “snacking” architecture. However, an  over-abundance of page content and navigational options often negated the benefits this approach provides. Cisco.com’s latest redesign has put page content on a strict diet, making the “snacking” architecture really shine. Benefit: Visitors digest even large amounts of content more effectively since it is delivered in bite-size pieces throughout the site.

Content

2010 | Website Launch | Cisco.com | Solutions PageThe content is shorter, crisper, and easier to read. The previous version of the Cisco.com Website seemed stuck in the trap most IT Websites find themselves in—it talked too much. The content was too long, extremely dense, listed too many benefits, and was often delivered in a single page of prose.  Not anymore. Content on the new Cisco.com is more focused, crisply written, and talks directly to the reader. Benefit: Visitors absorb marketing messages because they stay engaged while reading the content.

The content is delivered in small chunks. Cisco.com has been breaking up its content little by little over the last 12 months. But the latest site redesign really breaks it down. Marketing click streams now deliver shorter bits of content across multiple pages. Meanwhile, some product marketing pages distribute content by topic on the same page using tab-top navigation. Benefits: Visitors can experience a unique marketing message by choosing the information that interests them. Executives and managers can explore content that addresses how Cisco’s products address their business challenges, without wading through technical specifications. Conversely, Network Administrators can dig into the technical specifications by bypassing solutions-class content.

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I focus on strategy and trends – and how the Web turns business rules on their heads. My job is to identify the Web-related trends and best practices that will change your world over the next 18 months. Where you need to cut through the clutter of conventional wisdom. How to change the competitive rules of the game. More gory details in my profile -- and unvarnished opinions about the sites we evaluate on Google+
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  3. Ken Reply

    Any idea what agency they use for the site?

    • Marty Gruhn Reply

      Hi Ken. Like most smart organizations, Cisco uses different agencies for different needs. (In other words, there isn’t a single design ‘mothership’ that can take credit for this site.)

      In fact, Cisco.com is managed by a relatively small group. In my opinion, they are some of the best professionals in the industry. Smart — on point — and they consistently deliver an amazing array of incremental results.

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