Dell Followup: Dell Responds!

Update: Dell site design folk are actively reading the comments on the original post to evaluate how to better improve the user experience. Neat.

The whole “What the Dell?” design rant received quite a bit more attention than I expected (thanks to an initial link from Daring Fireball and snowballing from there).

Quite a few comments, too. Including comments from Dell employees that spawned a bunch of email communication with them. I have a new found respect for the company.

Aside: Yes, to be perfectly clear, I am an Apple employee. This weblog, however, is completely disconnected from my day job other than that many of my hobbies and my profession overlap. I am speaking entirely for myself here.

Initially, many of the respondents pretty much agreed with my opinion of Dell’s site design. Go read the original post if you want more context.

About 20 comments in, a comment from RichardAtDell shows up:

Was reading your comments on both our website and one of our new products. We have been working on a overhaul of the Dell.com website and comments like yours arare most helpful. For additional detail and discussion, feel free to visit our blog at:

http://www.direct2dell.com/one2one/archive/2006/07/30/1224.aspx

As for the product you mention, different people have different technology needs and preferences. While this product mayy not fit your technology dreams, it does for others. A major benefit of Dell’s direct model is giving customers the opportunity to configure products with technology they want. That means some extra steps in the buying process, but the customized technology is what many appreciate and value.

The site that Richard mentioned is quite interesting. It documents exactly what the Dell design team thinks of their current site, including some rather pointed quotes from various weblogs and direct feedback. They pull no punches (beyond keeping the language clean).

I was impressed simply in that an organization within or connected to Dell was so brutally honest about what the company is doing wrong. The team even compares their product to the Apple site. They excuse the remaining complexity behind the claim that their site is to “serve different customer needs, and, I think, possibly harder to design and manage”.

I wrote Richard a quick email thanking him for both posting to an obviously hostile forum and to also commend his teams openness and honesty in their work. We have exchanged emails since. Nice guy.

As per the product I mention, I still think it is a silly design. I should go into some more depth on that front at some point.

AnneAtDell later attempted to post what was, in effect, boilerplate marketing content. The first post failed. Could have been WordPress’s fault.

Actually, WordPress kinda boned RichardAtDell’s first post, too. He posted an URL with a trailing period at the end (as in, the end of a sentence). WordPress parsed the content and made the URL clickable, but included the trailing period. End result was a broken URL. Amusing to see people assume the worst about Dell on that one.



One Response to “Dell Followup: Dell Responds!”

  1. stevenf says:

    Wow, kudos to Dell. I wouldn’t have expected anything to come of it.

    I wanted to call out one of the specific things you mentioned, the division of “Home”, “Home Office”, and “Business” stores. I’ve seen this at virtually every major PC manufacturer. HP does it. Sony does it. I’m assuming they all just copy each other without thinking about it. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

    I was looking for a specific product at HP once, and that was the first question: Home, Home Office, or Business? Buh? It’s an accessory for a portable computer that I’d probably be using lots of places. I guess I’ll probably use it mostly at home, so I clicked that. Well, that product isn’t even listed in the “Home” store. Good thing I already knew it existed, or I might have assumed it didn’t.

    I think it was ultimately on Home Office, but I actually had to use Google to find a link to it. THEIR OWN SEARCH BOX turned up nothing.

    Whenever something like this happens, I try to do the right thing and actually let someone know. So, I followed a feedback link, and answered the 2 or 3 surveys they emailed me post-purchase, commenting specifically on how hard it was to even find the product on their site. Who knows if anything will ever come of it. I sure felt like I was talking into a black hole.

    I can’t even begin to imagine the process and red tape that leads to online stores like this.

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