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Analytics and heatmap testing show that users don't really click on the "Solutions" tab in our main menu. My guess is that this is because the "Solutions" label is overused and users are a bit blind to it.

The full list of items is:

Products | Solutions | Partners | About Us | Resources | Contact Us

The Solutions dropdown contains two lists:

  • By Business Need (Sample item - Secure Email)
  • By Industry Vertical (Sample item - Education)

One of the alternative suggestions I've got so far is "Enterprise", but this doesn't match with all the content (such as the example above, "Education")

Does anyone have experience with this problem (either specifically, or in general)?

What were some of the alternatives you arrived at, or tools you used in the process?

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I'd suggest Precipitates to be a smartass –  Ben Brocka Mar 30 '12 at 23:04
    
@BenBrocka Very helpful ;) You know what they say, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate –  dennislees Mar 30 '12 at 23:28
    
Can you fold solutions under Products? –  Jung Lee Mar 31 '12 at 3:31
    
@JungLee This is an interesting suggestion. Products could be categorized using the same breakdown Solutions, but this is approach is limited in that one product might appear under several solution categories and there would be a duplication issue. There's also a corporate aim to be a "solution provider", rather than being product-focused, complicating matters further. –  dennislees Mar 31 '12 at 4:37
    
This conundrum usually arises when the marketing department wants to sell to everyone instead of narrowing the focus. IMHO, either merge everything into Products or put business needs into Products and rename the section to Industries. –  dnbrv Mar 31 '12 at 5:22

5 Answers 5

What about using Services?

Everyone has pointed out the somewhat generic nature of Solutions, and honestly Services is not all that much more specific. However, I think it goes a long way to explain the difference in connotation between it and Products.

To be clear, Products invokes a sense of a pre-made system. If I'm a small-business owner and I need to keep my books, I'd see Quickbooks as a product purchased. Services, on the other hand, implies a more custom-fit approach. Keeping with the small-business owner theme, if I dealt with a local accounting firm to keep my books, it would be a service provided. For all I know, they're just using Quickbooks behind the scenes, but someone is providing a service to me such that I don't have to worry about the product being used.

With your limited list of examples it is hard to tell if this distinction truly fits your environment, but it seems likely.

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It's an interesting suggestion, but 'Services' comes with a load of semantic baggage. I'm not really sure it makes a ready replacement for 'Solutions' because service implies action. IT Consulting is a service. –  dennislees Apr 16 '12 at 17:08

Heat maps is good, but it doesn't tell you if the user "missed" to click the tab or just didn't want to click it. Solutions is very straight forward and used by companies such as Microsoft and IBM. Users of your site probably know what to find there.

We have to look at the problem from a different angle and check the convertion rates. Do you have lower convertion rates on items in the solution tab, than on the product tab? If the answer is true, and the items on the solution tab are as wanted and equal in price as product items then we have a real problem.

Even if we have identified a problem, or suspect we have a problem with the tab label, it is possible to do an open card sort, where users group items together and label them by themselves. It could be a start, and its always nice to know what your users think.

Edit: One other suggestion, if card sort is not an option. You have six categories in the top menu, but you could easely narrow them down to five by moving the Contact Us to be a sub item of About Us. It is not unusual to see contact info within the about us group. Then you have only five top items which would be easier for the user to scan. I would move the About Us last and come up this order of navigation items:

Products | Solutions | Partners | Resources | About Us

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+1 for card sorting with real users –  greenforest Mar 31 '12 at 11:28

I suspect the reason why "Solutions" is getting fewer clicks than "products" is because they appeal to different audience, and there is more of one than the other.

"Products" appeal to people who have good idea of what they're looking for. Majority of your visitors fall into this category, thus more clicks.

"Solutions" appeal to people who may have heard of your company, but don't know its offerings as well, such as management type who are not as technically savvy, and would like to browse your offerings through larger context.

So I think it's ok to have Solutions get fewer clicks. As someone pointed out, conversion is what matters. There's no point renaming it to something catchy, only to see the conversion rate fall.

Incidentally, you indicated that there is a lot of duplicate products being listed across different "Solutions", which leads me to believe that the term "Solutions" is being used as yet another way to bucket your products, rather than as a value-added offering in itself. (hope I made sense there?) I know this is going beyond the scope of your original question, but I think it's important to clearly differentiate the two to your visitors, and not use the word "Solutions" as just another way to bucket your products.

I encourage you to look at Adobe's site to see how they defined "Solutions", and how it differs from their "Products", and how they deftly avoided the often confusing cross-linking between the two.

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+1 for naming me as "someone", love it :) –  Benny Skogberg MCSA Mar 31 '12 at 19:30
    
^lol... and I totally meant to go back and fix it too... But now it's too late. Sorry Benny! –  Jung Lee Mar 31 '12 at 19:43
    
It's OK, no harm done. In development we call it technical dept :) –  Benny Skogberg MCSA Mar 31 '12 at 19:57
    
@JungLee Adobe's solutions seem much the same as how we break it down. They break things down by industry and need, but you still end up at specific products (or groups of producuts) in the end –  dennislees Mar 31 '12 at 23:40

My first impression was also card sorting as already mentioned by Benny Skogberg and I also like the site analytics approach of MFrank. I don't have a concrete answer to this but I do have some thoughts.

The problem I personally have with 'Solutions' is that it is sort of an overused buzzword and it doesn't mean much to me. However, trying to put myself into the users mind, when arriving at a website with interesting (but complex) products, I want to learn more about them. Learning about how they're integrated elsewhere, if a range of products works hand-in-hand, about other customers already using them in production and their experiences and finally.

Having said this, some keywords (brainstorm mode) that come to my mind are:

  • products applied
  • in the wildlife
  • other (happy) customers
  • testimonials
  • case study
  • whitepaper
  • examples
  • inspiration
  • making it tangible

Maybe also thinking more out of the box can help. Keeping this section in the main nav will likely limit you in terms of wording to 1-2 words. Removing it from the main nav, e.g. to some box that always appears on the right side could help.

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+1 for explaining why solutions is an overused meaningless word. Too me, working as a system developer, solutions is what is the outcome of my work. However, it may be too localized to developers? –  Benny Skogberg MCSA Mar 31 '12 at 11:46
    
Another +1 for overused buzzword. I have not yet found a menu item with that label to be useful when doing research on possible products. –  TomG Apr 16 '12 at 17:58

Though I agree with Benny Skogberg that Heatmaps are not the perfect indicator with regards to showing whether a specific tab was missed or just ignored,my primary concern with your navigation is the term solutions since I dont know what the term solutions means here or what solutions you are referring to and I dont really know your business. If you could come up with a term which might explain it better about what I should expect when I click on that menu link ,then you might see higher conversion rates.

I would suggest the term organizational solutions but I am not sure how it ties in with your business model.

An alternate approach to determine what users are looking for in your site is to see what keywords people use to get to your site (Analytics) or if possible,do a task analysis of your site with users to determine the content they are looking for and the process they follow in trying to get it.

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+1 for web analytics –  greenforest Mar 31 '12 at 11:28
    
@MFrank2012 Thanks for the input - Heatmaps were used in combination with Analytics here, each confirming the other. Solutions here means much the same as it does elsewhere i.e. the application of a product or set of products (or services) in a specific way to solve a specific business problem or need. –  dennislees Mar 31 '12 at 14:44

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