Microsoft.com is one of the most visited websites on the planet, and the #1 corporate website, with some 250 million visitors each month worldwide. An impressive stat indeed, however not without its challenges. The site serves up thousands of pages and addresses the interests of millions of customers – thus stressing the importance of a very robust and comprehensive Information Architecture.
To address customer feedback, Microsoft introduced a new home page. The purpose of the new page is to make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for. This release also introduces Microsoft Vista-like design elements and a dynamic new navigation paradigm designed to improve discoverability and increase engagement and customer satisfaction. The design is based on data of the most common tasks, products, and services that people come to our site for, and then we validated and improved the design during months of customer testing. The new navigation system and information architecture have been designed to works as a shuttle system that ideally takes people where they want to go helping them have greater success in finding information.
In addition to a new navigation system, the navigation menu has been placed on the right side of the page. Customers told us it was too hard to find what they were looking for on the home page. So we separated the main navigation menu from the featured announcements on the page. This separation makes it easier for customers to either scan the announcements for new items of interest, or dig into the site navigation. Moving the menu to the right side of the page turned out to be the solution that looks best and makes the menu easiest to find.
The new version of the Home Page has undergone rigorous testing that includes usability, customer mental modeling and interviews, a multi-phase beta program, stakeholder involvement and review, subsidiary collaboration, and monitoring of blogs. Extensive in-market beta testing has yielded an incredible increase in customer satisfaction with discoverability, as well as positive trends in customer engagement. I consider these results to be a good indication that we are moving in the right direction.
There is definitely room for further improvements – but this will only come after collecting more data and tracking customer behaviors. Furthermore, the navigation system will become even more powerful once it is fully adopted throughout the entire Microsoft.com network of sites. Visit Microsoft.com or Microsoft.ca today and play around with the navigation system – I would love to hear what you think!