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For a new project we want to use Zendesk.com as a good example for our designers. We love the site but can not really tell why since ux is not our field of expertise.

What makes the zendesk.com website special from a UX point of view?

And are there any bad things?

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This is a bit too close to a 'can you do a usability review of website X' type question, and therefore isn't one that can have a 'correct' answer. Can you refine the question to be more specific? For instance: "Is technique 'X' as shown on this website good from an accessibility point-of-view". –  JonW Feb 29 '12 at 9:09
    
I would like to explain my question like that: We looked at different websites we know of which one was a helpdesk service. We liked it and started looking within this industry when we found zendesk. And we were surprised how different it looked and tried to find out what it really was. What we really want to get out of the zendesk example, is the feeling you get while visiting the site. But how can you do that, right? :) –  Daniel Schenker Feb 29 '12 at 9:18
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Asking people for reviews of websites isn't really on topic for our site. A better question would be: how can I determine whether the zendesk website is a good UX? And then you can use an answer like JonW's, which helps you figure out the next steps. –  Rahul Feb 29 '12 at 10:37
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@codeinthehole it's preferable if the question can be amended to suit the Q/A format rather than closing it. Closing should be a last resort really. There is an answerable question here, as Rahul describes above. –  JonW Feb 29 '12 at 12:28
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I'm with @codeinthehole on this. The seatbelt alarm question is much better and it got closed. –  dnbrv Feb 29 '12 at 13:18
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4 Answers

Zendesk.com is a very good website from a UX perspective. Here's why:

  1. Clear CTA (call to action) - The website is clear about what it wants the user to do: start a free trial. They repeat it several times: thrice on the homepage (on the navigation bar, in the first item of the rotating carousel and at the bottom), and inside every section. And even though they use slightly different phrasing, the button itself is designed the same everywhere: white label on orange background, which differentiates it from other buttons on the site. You can't miss it. "Try Zendesk Free" button "Create my Zendesk" button
  2. Personality - The website projects Zendesk's fun and vibrant culture and brand personality. They do it by "sneaking in" a funny/clever copy every here and there, and even a large piece of funny content, just to show that there not all business, but also into this for the experience. This gives the site's users (and prospective customers) the feeling that there are real human beings behind Zendesk, not corporate robots. For example: "S*** Support Agents Say
  3. Credibility and trust - Zendesk.com increases their credibility by applying two well-known "tricks": They display their phone number upfront in the site's header (they're not hiding from you) and they show a list of reputable clients (if Zendesk's good enough for them, it's good enough for you). Zendesk's phone number in the header Zendesk's showcase of famous clients.
  4. Aesthetics - The website is clean, minimalist and visually appealing in general, strengthening the brand's professional image and the user's experience.
  5. Usability - the site follows the main usability guidelines: big clear headlines, short and clear labels, simple navigation, big buttons, hints in every text field, hover states for everything that is clickable and more.

All in all, the website follows very good UX practices. As someone who actually used Zendesk in the past, I can say that this experience also ensues in the great product itself, contributing to the old saying that good design is always intentional.

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Thank you so much for this great review! You are mentioning some great points! And all lead to what you say at the end and what we want to accomplish too -> Zendesk is a great product and somehow you can feel it. It really looks like they are sure about what they do. This is what we want too ;-) Thanks again! –  Daniel Schenker Feb 29 '12 at 10:22
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As has been flavour-of-the-week on UX.StackExchange this week, I think a Heuristic Evaluation is what you're looking for. It's all very well us telling you what is good and bad about the website but nothing beats doing some analysis yourself. That'll give you a better understanding of what makes a website provide a good user experience.

Heuristic evaluation is the most popular of the usability inspection methods. Heuristic evaluation is done as a systematic inspection of a user interface design for usability. The goal of heuristic evaluation is to find the usability problems in the design so that they can be attended to as part of an iterative design process. Heuristic evaluation involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the "heuristics").

Rather than determining what is wrong with the site, you can assess the site for what it does well (even suggest improvements, there is no 'perfect' website).

A couple of questions from this board this week were discussing this with some great useful feedback:

Heuristic aproaches

Usability Guidelines

(As my answer is shamelessly stealing from these two questions / answers if you feel the need to upvote my answer please make sure you go and upvote the useful answers in those threads too)

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Thanks Jon! The problem here is the following. I am not an expert in ux... And I feel that I can only analyse a website based on a feeling rather than knowledge. ;-) Anyway. Thanks for sharing the links. I will check it out! –  Daniel Schenker Feb 29 '12 at 10:29
    
Would love to. But I can't vote yet... ;-) –  Daniel Schenker Feb 29 '12 at 10:41
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This is a good answer as it points out that there are 'generic rules' - which can be applied to any website (and more broadly, to any interface). –  PhillipW Feb 29 '12 at 10:44
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I think this question is too broad, but I'll try to answer.

The zendesk.com website looks great, has a clean and easily understandable design. Some parts may be improved but these changes should be A/B tested?

  1. I would try the 'Try zendesk free' button in different colors to see which one attracts the most clicks
  2. Top slider: pot content on the right, and pictures/illustrations on the left.
  3. And definitely change the image of the asian little girl. She should stare to the "Better than free!" headline to direct visitors eyes. Here is a study showing how the we look where they look

After all, the website is great, and I like especially the sticky header.

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I guess the question is not too easy. But your answer is very helpful! Thanks especially for pointing out the study, very interesting! –  Daniel Schenker Feb 29 '12 at 7:52
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The site is clean, unpretentions, but clever. The sticky header works smoothly without me really noticing. There is nothing that distracts the user while being on the site. The colour scheme is gentle, although, for my preference, I would have picked a less lime green/yellow colour.

Most importantly, it tells you what it does, what you can do next, and what other possibilities there might be. It does this clearly and without being in your face. That is critical. It is thinking of the user and how they want to use the site, not just how marketeers want to present themselves.

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Its funny. We also think of the site as "selling without selling". Or like you call it "whitout being in your face". This is definitely something we try to accomplish too... Thanks for your answer! :) –  Daniel Schenker Feb 29 '12 at 9:12
    
The sticky header is not even close to being smooth on my machine (i7 quad core with 8GB) –  Marjan Venema Feb 29 '12 at 11:55
    
@MarjanVenema - My machine is not particualarly speedy, but it is fine for me. I have definately seem far worse. Sorry you experience problems, but my point is that if you are going to do things like that, they should be smooth. –  Schroedingers Cat Feb 29 '12 at 12:08
    
I agree, if you gonna use that, it should be smooth. You can't be certain of that because you don't know what hardware/software will be used to access your site. And that is probably why GMail has changed to making the whole header stick instead of "just" the button bar. –  Marjan Venema Feb 29 '12 at 13:28
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