Is it Possible to be Everything to Everybody?

 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 class, 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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