Next Monday, November 15, TechNet will be introducing a new home page. We’ve designed the landing experience to provide IT Pros with more guidance about what news and issues Microsoft has that day. There will be fewer links, as we’re moving past our old “sea of links” approach to the TechNet home—I am sure all our customers know we have lots of resources on TechNet, so it’s no longer necessary to try to show links to all those resources at once.
The big changes will be obvious immediately to frequent visitors. There’s more news and feature content at the top of the page, and we’ve moved the left rail navigation—the list of all the TechCenters and topic centers—to the bottom of the page. This was the result of extensive customer research and real-world feedback in our international network, where some sites have already made this move. We found people always find these links, at the same rate, as when they are at the top of the page. Our reasoning is that TechNet customers know the TechCenters and will find them quickly, wherever they are listed on the page.
TechNet ON, our biweekly feature on a key IT Pro topic, such as the current edition on Windows 7 Deployment, gets more play at the top left of the page. A “Hot Topics” section, which gets the upper right corner of the new home page, is going to deliver day-of-release news about new products and services, something TechNet has often lagged behind news sites. Hot Topics is where you’ll find the latest insider perspective on Microsoft news for IT Pros.
Today’s News, the traditional feed of news postings by Microsoft personnel, will remain “above the fold” on the home page, along with a new “Getting IT Done” section in the right column, where we’ll provide links to our new and growing set of IT scenario guides to help get visitors to the point in the explore-deploy-manage-maintain lifecycle they need. These scenarios deliver guidance about using Microsoft technology to achieve business goals, often involving multiple products. We are committed to getting you the very best of the information we have.
Our scenarios are currently clustered into two hubs introduced last week, the Cloud Scenario Hub and the Virtualization Scenario Hub. Early in 2011, we’ll add a Business Intelligence Hub. What other areas of focus would you like to see? If you have any feedback, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Community, a longtime feature of the home page, will get more room in the middle of the page, where we’ll be featuring local TechNet Edge video and opportunities to meet and talk with your peers in your region.
Finally, we’ve moved that large subscription section at the top of the old home page to the bottom, because many people, upon their arrival, spend extensive time and energy trying to figure out what costs money on TechNet. All the content on TechNet is free, so we are going to emphasize this by showing that content and not asking people to subscribe. There’s incredible value in evaluation keys to Microsoft product and support events in a TechNet subscription, but subscribers know where to go to manage that – the “Sign In” link at the top of the page is the consistent #1 most-used link on the home page. For everyone else, we want you to know that TechNet is a vital growing and free resource for IT Pros.
Come on by the new home page next week and give us your ideas about what you’d like to see. Later this year, we’ll be doing more work on the home page navigation to give you better access to featured content. This, however, is a very big step for us only seven months after the change of home page chrome. The new look is a statement, we hope, that Microsoft is here to serve IT Pros with the most important information they need, not just a sea of information that comes with little guidance.