Networking Systems websites have a lot in common with their enterprise systems counterparts. They market complex hardware, software, and services. They appeal to technically savvy audiences. And top-notch support and training are a must. But that is where the commonalities end.

Where Enterprise Systems sites are all sprawling properties, Networking Systems sites come in a variety of shapes and sizes. And, where each Enterprise Systems site displays at least one unique strength, there is a clear standout among sites tracked in the Networking Systems segment.

Cisco.com tops the Networking Systems roster nearly across the board, which should come as no surprise given the site’s vast wealth of content and history of innovation. In fact, Cisco.com delivers most of the Best Practice behaviors of the Networking Systems bunch. But it doesn’t steal first place in every benchmark category.

What are the secrets to Cisco.com’s success and where do Cisco.com’s smaller brethren, Juniper.net, PaloAltoNetworks.com, and Broadcom.com manage to steal its thunder?

Find out below the fold.

Marketing

Product Marketing: Cisco.com is the clear leader in the Product Marketing category. Given its Best Practice performance based on Website Features (content) and Good Practice Usability score Cisco.com’s Good Practice rating based on Overall Performance is all but a foregone conclusion. And it’s no wonder.

Cisco.com’s product detail pages use varying layouts, which can make information difficult to find (check out the Routers, Data Center Analytics and Assurance, and Collaboration Endpoints pages and you’ll see what we mean), but the site’s ever-present secondary navigation provides a framework that structures product content and helps visitors jump to the information they need. This powerful combination lets Cisco.com tailor its marketing messages on the page while keeping the content structure crystal clear for visitors.

Services Marketing: Services Marketing is where Cisco.com really pulls away from the pack. The site provides far more content than competitors (it has a whopping 28% lead in Website Features) and proves to be the most usable (with a 9% lead in Overall Usability) of the group.

The site’s vast library of resources and simple content style combine to craft compelling messages before it hands off visitors to downloadable documents. This runs counter to competitive approaches that provide little more than a paragraph or two and let their PDF brochures do all the talking.

Industry Marketing: Cisco.com also takes a commanding lead in the Industry Marketing category with Good Practice ratings in Website Features and Overall Performance (it misses a Good Practice in Usability by a measly .1%).

You may think that Cisco.com wins because it provides more industry segments than competitors. But that isn’t the case. In fact, PaloAltoNetworks.com presents a longer roster of industries than Cisco.com. Once again, Cisco.com’s lead is thanks to a wide variety of content and resources that deliver rich, industry-specific messages before handing off visitors to product content.

Call to Action

Cisco.com takes the win in the Call to Action category with a Website Features score that hits the 100% mark – which means it delivers every possible type of feature that will encourage visitors to engage with them. It also steals the show in Usability with a performance that falls just shy of a Good Practice rating.

What is Cisco.com’s secret? Always being at the right place at the right time. Although the design and location of Cisco.com’s call to action buttons change from time to time, there is always something available and it is always easy to see. And if visitors don’t like the options on the page, they can always go to the Cisco.com’s handy How To Buy page to see every possible way they can begin the buying process (see the image above).

Post Purchase Features

Cisco.com lands the top spot in the Post Purchase Features category also, but this time it falls short of a clean sweep. The site hits the mark in Support with strong Website Features and Usability numbers but misses in Training where it trails behind Juniper.net in Usability.

Cisco.com has been a major player in the Support arena for a long time now. In fact, the site has landed within the top 5 on the siteIQ eBusiness Index for more than 5 years. The site’s clean and clear Support landing page and innovative mega menu allows customers to jump to Support information from the get-go, which puts the site in a class of its own.

Training is another issue. Although Cisco.com delivers almost ¾ of the content and features on the benchmark, it hands the win to Juniper.net in Usability. Cisco.com’s aging and clumsy interface simply can’t hold a candle to Juniper.net’s clean page layouts and logical click streams that speeds visitors to class information and registration.

Communities

Only Cisco.com and Juniper.net enter the Communities category race since their competitive brethren, PaloAltoNetworks.com and Broadcom.com, don’t offer communities.

Cisco.com ultimately wins the top spot in this category but Juniper.net gives Cisco.com a real run for its money. Both sites achieve Best Practice status when it comes to community features and content, but Cisco.com takes the lead in Usability with a Good Practice performance.

This may come as a surprise considering Cisco.com’s communities use an older platform style that is less sexy than Juniper.net’s revamped J-Net Community site. But one can’t argue that Cisco.com’s jam packed community sites deliver more bang for the buck on every page.

Next Steps

If you haven’t checked out the latest Networking Systems rankings, then wander in that direction next. There you can find out who steals the win in Website Features, Usability, and Overall Performance.

Also, don’t miss the upcoming Index winners. Want to be the first in the know? Sign up for the siteIQ Digest and get the latest information into your inbox.

About the siteIQ eBusiness Index

siteIQ evaluated the twenty-five Websites listed on the 2018 siteIQ eBusiness Index. These Websites are categorized into eight industry-specific segments including:

  • Business Software (Adobe.com, Microsoft.com, Symantec.com, Citrix.com)
  • Cloud (Salesforce.com, Netsuite.com)
  • Enterprise Software (CA.com, IBM Software, Oracle.com, SAP.com)
  • Enterprise Systems (Dell.com, IBM.com, HPE.com)
  • Network Systems (Brocade.com, PaloAltoNetworks.com, Cisco.com, Juniper.net)
  • Professional Services (Accenture.com, Capgemini.com, Cognizant.com, IBM Global Services)
  • Consumer Systems (HP.com, Apple.com)
  • Enterprise Storage (EMC.com, NetApp.com)

These in-depth evaluations were conducted using the 2018 edition of the siteIQ eBusiness Index Best Practices Benchmark, which includes 18 distinct categories. Within each category, sites are scored based on three unique criteria:

  1. Website Features: The content, resources, assets, and collateral provided on any given Website. The siteIQ Best Practices Benchmark currently identifies & tracks over 1,000 types of Website features that represent typical competitive requirements. Within each category siteIQ analysts track the number — as well as quality — of features provided.
  2. Website Usability: The overall practicality, versatility, usefulness, and convenience of any given Website. The siteIQ Best Practices Benchmark currently includes 145 metrics that measure usability from the visitor’s perspective. Within each category siteIQ analysts score usability questions based on a strict set of standards to award between 1—100 points per question.
  3. Overall Performance: The aggregate suitability of any given Website that factors Website Features and Website Usability scores.

The 2018 evaluations were performed during the first quarter of 2018.

Category: Index Rankings

Class: Website Reviews and Rankings

Websites Profiled: siteIQ eBusiness Index Websites

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