Target audience: IT professionals in a small-to-midsize businesses; companies with fewer than 500 employees.
Key Web executive: Jay Hallberg, VP-marketing and co-founder
No. of employees working on the site: 10
Last major redesign: June 2009
No. of pages on site About 25 on the main site, with 100,000 in the accompanying user-generated community section
Web developer: In-house Businesses often take cues from the consumer marketing world. Network management software provider Spiceworks is very upfront about where it got its inspiration for its June redesign: “Apple is one of the greatest consumer marketers. We wanted to create the iTunes of IT. We wanted to build something similar,” said VP-Marketing Jay Hallberg, a co-founder of the company.
This may be why, like Apple before it, Spiceworks gets its design and feature ideas directly from its user base, the more than 750,000 IT professionals registered on the site. In fact, users are such a key part of the site that their comments, advice and even photos are now part of the home page design, Hallberg said. The Community section found a place on the home page this past June, creating an environment where visitors see the non sequiturs and slang of user-generated how-tos and reviews alongside thoughtful, technology-rich language.
Because Spiceworks is an international community that tries to give users a local feel, the company added a “Spiceworks in Your Country” link, in June. It also added simple product tours to the site at the same time.
Navigation has a consumer look and feel. Instead of a nav bar along the top of the site, there's a text-based menu across the bottom with a decidedly Apple feel to it. Another action-oriented navigation option encourages users to manage, map, run and troubleshoot, among other options. Users will also find buttons they can click to follow the company on Facebook, Flikr, LinkedIn and Twitter.
“We wanted to make more resources available, so even within all the 100,000 pages, there are the same icons, so I can share information in my other social networks where I might want to talk about IT topics.”
Expert commentary—Jennifer Cardello, user experience specialist, Nielsen Norman Group: The site lists capabilities in simple terms, and includes the price. In fact, “free” appears on the home page six times. As well, and very important, Spiceworks anticipates that IT professionals may be wary of any service marketing itself as free, so it addresses that right on the front page and links to a detailed, yet simple, explanation. The Free Download button is impossible to miss, and Spiceworks includes links to recent reviews of the product on third-party sites. Prospective customers do not have to dig for the types of information they would need in order to make a purchasing decision. It's all right there on, or linked from, the home page.
|Smith & Fong Co.|