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Case Study: Semiconductor Company

The web site of this large semiconductor company had evolved as a set of independent web sites developed by different product and services groups. The independent sites had been brought under the corporate style manual and so had a consistent look and feel on the surface. However, customers had a difficult time using the site. Lack of consistent conventions and an overall navigation architecture:
  • Caused customers to get lost, confused and be unable to meet the goals that brought them to the site
  • Kept the company from effectively marketing and cross selling on the site.
The company determined that it needed a program to encourage the distributed owners of the site to work together. One that provided both objective measurements and incentives.

The owners of each section were given one year to improve the overall site, with a portion of their bonus riding on their success. The project began with a baseline practices audit of the seven key sections of the site, auditing them as if they were a single site. A number of competitor and best practice sites also were audited to provide objective data for making decisions and setting priorities for change. The the results of the baseline practices audit were presented to the business owners of the seven sections of the site. Together they made decisions on which practices needed to be addressed over the following twelve months. A few practices were determined to be irrelevant or too low in priority to include.

For each of the next two quarters, a progress practices audit was conducted on the site, and the results were given to the section owners so they could track and adjust their activities based on their progress. At the end of the year a final audit was conducted on the overall site and the original competitor and best practice sites. The semiconductor company site improved its practice conformance in all the categories. Very few of the competitor or best practice sites had improved in any categories, and several had lost best practices over the same twelve month period.

The semiconductor company also engaged in regular satisfaction surveys and conducted targeted usability tests during the twelve month period. Overall the satisfaction levels for the site improved along with the conformance to their documented practices. Using documented practices in conjunction with usability testing allowed them to determine that one specific audience differed from the majority of their site visitors (and the best practice state) on one of the practices. Having documented practices allowed them to pinpoint the problem and adjust for it only in the section of the site this audience used, while maintaining the more preferred experience for everyone else.

The use of specific, documented, practices following the web site improvement framework allowed this company to:
  • Describe the current situation in actionable terms
  • Agree on where and how existing practices needed to change
  • Track and manage progress toward their goal
  • Identify, test and pinpoint audience exceptions
  • Improve satisfaction and success for all the key audiences
Additionally, they now have a way to continue to describe, monitor and improve their web site.

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