Siemens : Easing journeys for customers
An elegant solution to a problem that baffles many: how to get potential customers to the part of the site that will most benefit them.
Siemens, the German engineering group, has a large site that combines corporate with marketing functions. It has several mechanisms designed to help customers or potential customers find the relevant area. One is the Business Index, accessible from the body of the home page or the left-hand navigation bar of the Products, Solutions & Services section. This starts with three pages, with tabs to move between them, covering Business Area, Industry and Product Name.
Each page has a list of topics. Some have a ‘folder’ icon next to them, while others have a right-pointing arrow. An arrow leads direct to a section of the site; a folder leads to a further menu. There may be further folders within this, but at some stage the visitor will find an arrow – and so a link to relevant content.
Siemens provides an elegant solution to a problem that baffles most large groups: how to get potential customers to the part of the site that will most benefit them (and therefore the company). It does three things right.
First, it allows customers to choose different routes. Some will know the product name, some will think in terms of business area, others prefer to start from their industry. This multi-track approach improves the likelihood they will all find what they want.
Second, it uses tabs to allow easy switching between the three main pages. This device – originally borrowed from filing cabinets – is familiar to anyone who uses Amazon. The big advantage is that it keeps the page length down: were all three pages combined into one, it would need considerable scrolling.
Third, unlike many companies, it uses intuitive icons. Siemens’ choice of an arrow or a folder is fairly foolproof. The arrow clearly means ‘Go direct there’, while the folder borrows from established computer operating system convention. Most web users will immediately understand that a picture of a folder means there is more to find inside it. This combination of common sense and reliance on well-understood convention is guarantee of excellent usability.http://www.siemens.com
First published on 24 May, 2005