Site Redesign Follows Dell's Expansion Plan

Dell Inc. on Oct. 10 will unveil the first redesign of its Web site in three years as the company endeavors to broaden its appeal to markets ranging from mainstream consumers to IT directors.

The makeover is critical for an online channel that each day drives more than $50 million in sales, or half of Dell's $38 billion in revenue last year. It is also a look at Dell's e-commerce potential three years down the road.

“The old site recognized the diversity of audience by market segment, but not as much by experience,” said Neil Clemmons, senior vice president of Dell interactive agency Critical Mass, Chicago.'s relaunch follows the Round Rock, TX, company's foray last month into consumer electronics. Dell now sticks its name on products and services ranging from handhelds to data center items and installation of a home network to storage consolidation for corporate customers.

So, in addition to consumers, the new site caters to chief information officers and IT executives. They visit for insights on trends or technologies as do purchasing managers for IT procurement.

The new structure, navigation and tools aim to support expanding markets. And each of Dell's audiences has diverse needs and opportunities. Their experience online requires special tools and functionality.

Critical Mass, first and foremost, wanted to reinforce the Dell brand and site experience as “Easy as Dell” — the new company tag line and theme. Consistency, clarity, use of white space and the product-as-hero experience were central to the strategy.

Another element in that strategy was to bring enough functionality, information and content for customers to self-service both pre- and post-sale. In particular, Critical Mass raised the prominence of a function like “My Account” for returning customers who saved their shopping carts or want to manage their subscription to Dell e-mails.

Second, the agency created both iconic and drop-down quick picks of products for more streamlined navigation. Third, it refined customer support by presenting information relevant to the customer's particular systems based on the saved preferences.

A fourth new feature was a template structure that offered more messaging and merchandising space for Dell to display its products and services.

Finally, a new content management tool set was developed. This enabled the quick announcement of new products and services worldwide.

The site is updated daily in-house with new content, products and promotions. The new design supports this requirement as well.

“One of the strengths of the new design and technical architecture is that business segments can easily change content and priority to meet business needs and customer feedback,” Clemmons said.'s importance, particularly to its business audience, is proved by that the site maintains in its business and public sector more than 100,000 pages with custom configurations, products and advice.

Analyzing metrics, Critical Mass knew that consumers do not always make a decision on their first visit to So the site provides as much information as possible. Richer product views, frequently asked questions, access to technical support and comparison tools are all online.

“The challenge is how to apply a standard set of components — templates, tools, navigation, design elements, work processes and measures — to appeal to a broad set of global customers who are interested in an ever-increasing array of products and services,” Clemmons said.

Many questions arise. How to make the experiences reinforce the Dell brand? How to drive conversion, upsell, cross-sell and repeat purchase rates? How to reward customers with an experience that is engaging, efficient, functional and memorable? And how to do it efficiently on a global level?

“Buying a new notebook, replenishing a cartridge for a printer or ordering in-home wireless network setup are very different than engaging with a consulting team on server consolidation,” Clemmons said. “Our job was to make sure all are 'Easy as Dell' online.”

The redesign was helped by hundreds of interviews, focus groups and usability sessions to understand how customers used and how they wanted to use the site.

Along with the feedback, Critical Mass also worked with Dell's global eBusiness team to define long-term goals and representative business components of those objectives. It also deliberated on likely customer issues and the required site experiences and functionality to support that.

Put simply, the new has room for additional customers as Dell anticipates an expansion of its products and services.

“This redesign is evolutionary, not revolutionary,” Clemmons said.

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