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Same thing, two opinions

sun20aug2006—33w232d63%— 16h51m00s—0utc

The contrast’s interesting ain’t it? Joel On Software‘s Joel Spolsky sees "Dell’s homepage":http://www.dell.com/ as a textbook case of heavy-handed, rapacious marketing. A List Apart‘s Nick Usborne, on the other hand, sees it as one of computer industry’s best examples of self-effacing design, respectful of its users and the now-fashionable right to self-identification WP.

Dell doesn’t think like their users think. When you go to their website, the first question they ask is what kind of buyer you are: home, small business, large business, etc. I don’t know what I am! I guess I’m a small business, but home systems are usually cheaper, and I usually like to buy top of the line PCs, so maybe I need the Big Business section. This distinction is completely lost on me.

I want a PC. What difference does it make whether I’m a home buyer or a small business buyer? I suspect that they are asking me this because they want to charge businesses more than homes, and large businesses even more. To defeat their system, I choose “home.”

Joel Spolsky, Dell And Usability, November 14, 2000
(Dell’s homepage around that date)

Dell has what is probably the most visitor-centric site of all the computer manufacturers. For years now they have built a homepage that holds back on saying, “Look at us, we’re great.” Instead they devote a significant part of the page to an area where visitor can self-select.

The design and text on the page immediately recognizes that some people are looking for home computers, while others are looking for networks for local government offices. Both audiences and more are addressed. The Dell.com page says, in effect, “Yes, you’re in the right place. Yes, we can help you. Yes, self-identify and please click here so we can help you find exactly what you need.”

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