Networking product sets may be more limited in scope than those sold by Enterprise companies, but their web properties share similar challenges. Both sell hardware, software, and services; have IT savvy audiences; and provide support for highly technical products.

But Networking sites are a horse of a slightly different color. These websites are unique in that they:

  • Sell using “Contact Us”—class call to action and complex configurators (rather than ecommerce systems); and
  • Offer high-end training and industry certifications

To assess how well Networking websites market, sell, and support their audiences, the siteIQ team evaluated four prominent Networking sites including Cisco.com, Juniper.net, PaloAltoNetworks.com, and Riverbed.com, using the siteIQ Best Practices Benchmark.

This benchmark identifies & tracks 989 types of website features that represent current requirements for Networking websites and includes 139 website usability questions that measure site versatility & usefulness from the visitor’s point of view.

This case study announces the leaders and the laggers in the Networking industry segment based on Overall Website Performance, Total Website Features, and Overall Website Usability scores.

Industry Findings

Unlike some of the other segments we track (Systems, Cloud) where each eBusiness Index website is marching to the beat of its own drummer, Networking sites tend to be in lockstep by providing a complete complement of content and features for visitors. The only Networking site that is slightly out of rhythm is Riverbed.com, which does not provide Investor Relations information because a private equity investment firm owns it.

This puts sites in the Networking segment on a relatively level playing field where each has equal opportunity to excel on a category level — or to become the winner overall. This is truer still given that each of these properties is structured to address similar strategies, marketing approaches, and target audiences — and because there isn’t much variation in the types of products and services they provide.

Consequently, it’s easy to conceive that scores for these sites would be comparable across the board — and that the battle for overall leadership would be fierce. The results of our 2019 Networking industry evaluations reveal, however, that this is far from the case. Instead, Cisco.com is the winner based on website content and usability in every Best Practice Benchmark category — and nearly every sub-category — making it the clear leader overall.

What’s more, historical eBusiness Index data shows that this has been the case for quite some time — and that Cisco.com wins no matter which Networking sites it’s pitted against. This, of course, begs the question: how does Cisco.com achieve such a feat?

The answer quite simply is that Cisco.com’s sheer size and ease of use are largely responsible for its years-long domination over the Networking segment. Case in point, current evaluation results show that Cisco.com delivers nearly 17% more content and is 8% more useful than any other Networking site we track. This puts Cisco.com at a distinct advantage when these metrics are factored to calculate overall performance — and ensures the site leadership within its industry segment.

That’s not to say that the rest of the Networking sites on the Index don’t perform on par with Cisco.com. In some cases they do, it’s just that Cisco.com most often overshadows the smaller offerings with its brute size.

The good news for the smaller sites is that usability is less of an issue than the volume of content delivered, so any one of them could be a contender if more features were added — specifically in product and services marketing areas. This is especially true given that the addition of content typically boosts usability — and in turn — website performance scores.  The bad news for the smaller sites is that Cisco.com will continue to prevail until one of them makes some major changes.

Unfortunately, there isn’t even a whiff of change among the smaller competitors we track, so it isn’t likely that Cisco.com will fall from grace anytime soon. 

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About the siteIQ eBusiness Index

siteIQ evaluated the twenty-five Websites listed on the 2019 siteIQ eBusiness Index. These Websites are categorized into five industry-specific segments including:

  • Software (Adobe.com, Citrix.com, IBM.com, Microsoft Business, Oracle.com, SAP.com, Symantec.com)
  • Cloud (AWS.com, Cloud.Google.com, Salesforce.com, VMWare.com)
  • Systems (CDW.com, e.Huawei.com, HPE.com, Intel.com)
  • Networking (Cisco.com, Juniper.net, PaloAltoNetworks.com, Riverbed.com)
  • Consumer (Apple.com, Dell.com, HP.com, Lenovo.com, LG.com, Samsung.com)

These in-depth evaluations were conducted using the 2019 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 Content: 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 content and 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 Content and Website Usability scores.

The 2019 evaluations were performed during the first quarter of 2019.

Category: Index Rankings

Class: Website Reviews and Rankings

Websites Profiled: siteIQ eBusiness Index Websites

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