You may think that the websites in the Consumer Systems industry segment are just an offshoot of enterprise systems sites. That’s understandable given that some enterprise systems sites also sell consumer systems. But when it comes down to it, these two industry segments are surprisingly different.
Unlike enterprise sites that wear many hats, consumer sites have only one goal – get visitors to the checkout line. Their designs are flashy, their calls to action are obvious, and their ecommerce engines have no equal. They are like the sports car of the systems set.
To find out what is under the hood, the siteIQ team evaluated two of the best consumer systems sites in IT, Apple.com and HP.com. What we found is that these sites may sell similar products, but they are completely different animals.
So, which site has the most effective marketing strategy? Which one supports their customers the best? Can HP.com beat IT’s design darling Apple.com? And is Apple.com more than just a pretty face?
As it turns out, both sites are winners in their own right and each has great lessons to teach.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that HP.com is substantially better than Apple.com. As it turns out, equating these sites is like comparing apples to oranges.
For example, HP.com has a larger product portfolio than Apple.com. This wide product selection gives HP.com more opportunities to deliver product information, which gives it the advantage in Website Features scoring.
These sites also have different marketing architectures. Sometimes, HP.com uses its ecommerce system for marketing and purchasing. On the other hand, Apple.com uses content and demonstrations to market its products then flips visitors to the ecommerce system only for buying.
But what makes Apple.com a truly unique property is how it presents its products. While HP.com sticks with ubiquitous, advertising-class videos, Apple.com develops unique, stunning presentations. It’s this type of innovative thinking that makes Apple users lifelong converts.
So, which site should your team look to for inspiration? Both.
HP.com aligns best with the large product families and complex navigation frameworks that most website teams wrestle with, which makes it the perfect muse for ecommerce teams. But Apple.com’s visionary designs and presentations make it a favorite of marketing and design folks.
Call to Action
HP.com gives visitors a multitude of options to engage with the company, which hands it the Features segment win in the Call to Action category. But all these options don’t give it a leg up in Usability scoring. Although HP.com ultimately takes the top spot based on overall performance, it does so with only 0.3% of daylight between it and Apple.com.
What gives HP.com the edge is its “How to Buy” panel in its Business Solutions area (see image above). While Apple.com has a similar selection of purchasing options, there isn’t a single location that presents all of them together.
Also notable is the difference in how Apple.com and HP.com present their calls to action. Where HP.com scatters its “Shop Now” links throughout the page, Apple.com goes with a simple “Buy Now” button located in its sticky navigation and purchasing options at the bottom of all site pages.
Is one method better than the other? Not really. Either application is acceptable. However, given that HP.com’s calls to action are the gating factor in getting more information about the product, its approach could be considered the more effective of the two.
HP.com provides visitors with far more purchasing features and information than Apple.com, but that doesn’t help HP.com in the Usability department. Apple.com’s simple ecommerce style helps the site steal the Usability win from HP.com by a 2% margin.
Both sites use similar page layouts, design cues, and purchasing click streams. In fact, you could almost say they are mirror images of each other. The only major difference between them is the number of configuration options listed. HP.com provides a litany of choices for the tech-savvy buyer, but Apple.com’s simple selections make the purchasing process easy for any shopper.
Post Purchase Features
Apple.com and HP.com’s Post Purchase Features scoring tells an interesting story. HP.com wins the Post Purchase Features race by a healthy 9% margin. But it does it with one hand tied behind its back.
When support is the issue, HP.com delivers far more resources than Apple.com. Combine this wealth of information with the site’s strong search options and simple snacking architecture, and you have a first-place ranking.
But once again, these sites come at supporting their customers from different angles.
Apple has its Apple Store “Genius” personnel that allows visitors to take their product to a physical location. So, Apple.com doesn’t need to provide the same level of online support as seen on competitive sites.
Since HP doesn’t have retail stores, HP.com needs to have an exceptional online support presence – and it does. It’s remote identification system, fast path search, and simple navigation gets visitors to the information they need quickly.
When it comes to training, Apple.com takes the de facto win in the Training & Education category because HP.com doesn’t offer training resources.
Although Apple.com’s training site is wickedly difficult to find, it does provide prospective students with just enough information to let them decide if the class will fit their needs. Unfortunately, class registration is handled by Apple’s training partner LearnQuest, which breaks the Apple’s iconic minimalist brand.
If you haven’t checked out the latest Consumer Systems industry rankings, then wander in that direction next. There you can find out who takes 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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