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10 Great Websites: SAS.com

September 13, 2010 - 9:25 am EDT
   
 
   
 
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  • Company: SAS Institute Inc.

    URL: www.sas.com

    Target audience: Current and prospective customers, community members, employees, potential employees, media

    Key Web executive: Aaron Hill, senior director, online strategy and service

    Number of people who work on the site: 50

    Last major redesign: Spring 2010

    No. of pages on the site: N/A

    Web developer: In-house

    This past spring, business analytics software provider SAS redesigned its corporate home page along with its more than 47 country-specific home pages based on feedback it received from focus groups. "There used to be a big banner across the top of the site, and a lot of people felt we were pushing content on them [when they came to the site] rather than letting them find the information they were interested in," said Aaron Hill, the company's senior director of online strategy and service.

    This led to a new, "task-oriented" site design that lets visitors navigate based on solution, industry or product, Hill said. Company news is still there, but it's more subtle, displaying in a small scrolling banner on the home page. "We have fact sheets, screen shots and demos, too, so we can provide visitors with enough information to help them see if our software can meet their needs," Hill said.

    In the redesign, SAS focused on using language that site visitors would recognize—rather than jargon or SAS-specific terms. "Much like many sites over the years, we may have fallen into the trap of using terms that were very specific to the product line, which makes it difficult for a new user to navigate the site," Hill said. "We have focused on understanding the customers and made sure the navigation represents words and terms that work for them."

    The new site focuses specifically on problems or issues that the customer might be trying to alleviate with SAS software, he said, and they'll find a lot of that information without having to log in. "We build the trust and credibility upfront, and that leads them to the demos and webcasts, which are behind a login," Hill said.

    Expert commentary, Vidya L. Drego, senior analyst, customer experience, Forrester Research: You can tell SAS came at its redesign from the perspective of someone who is looking for information about the company. They have robust search capabilities, especially for case studies. You can search by industry or product type. The company integrates product demos effectively and has multiple threads of information as you move through the site. I love that they don't require you to log in before accessing podcasts, RSS feeds or case studies. That's always been a difficult decision for b2b marketers: How many hoops do you make people jump through before giving them the information that they need? In this case, there are none, which promotes value and trust.

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