A moving of the needle requires action
Vicor Corporation designs, manufactures and markets modular power components and complete power systems that are used in the communications, data processing, industrial controls, test equipment, medical and defense electronics markets. Vicor sales executives noticed a shift in their buyers behavior from relationship-based sales approach to one in which designers usually choose vendors based on online research. Given this change, Vicor’s website was becoming more important to their sales strategy. Vicor came to us to help better understand their customer’s behavior and how their website can be have a greater impact on their sales cycle.
The SMAC Stack Insights
Time-to-market is a critical factor for most business and consumer Apps. Quick iterative design cycles, rapid prototyping, and usability testing are key to ensuring the success of gesture and touch friendly Apps.
“I need an easy and fast way to order unique power components for my prototypes.”
Design Engineer, self-configuration
“Power supply is the last component I think about when designing a system. I know what it needs to do, but I am not going to design it.”
Design Engineer, complete solution
A research-study built for results
We suggested a multinational user research study in which the responses of actual customers would be used to help drive business decision making. The study would seek to serve the web site design process in three areas:
- Understanding customers’ power system design process and developing a navigational map for the Vicor website that better aligns to customers’ needs;
- Observing the usability of the current Vicor website, and understanding where there was room for improvement in supporting customers’ needs;
- Uncovering how customers mentally organize and categorize various power components, and proposing a revised product taxonomy that would make sorting through Vicor’s extensive product line easier.
Understanding the Customer’s Needs
As a starting point, to gather a deeper understanding of customer needs we conducted a series of usability tests on Vicor’s current website. Customer’s interactions and comments were observed and recorded as part of the test. Vicor customers navigated the site while performing a pre-designed set of tasks. In addition, a series of card-sort exercises were performed to better understand the customer design process. Vicor customers were asked to group a set of terms that offered insights into their perceived mental model of the site content and products.
Getting a Well Rounded Internal Organizational View
We interviewed stakeholders as a next step in Vicor’s Sales, Marketing, Engineering, and Executive teams. Stakeholders were asked a series of questions about their perception on the current Vicor website including what worked well and what didn’t work well. Broader focus groups were also conducted with other affiliated business units to gather support and cross-functional acceptance across the entire organization.
Presenting Actionable Recommendations
Ayantek presented collective findings from the customer usability tests, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups to the Vicor Decision Committee. The findings provided specific, actionable recommendations to redesign the Vicor site to be a more effective sales and marketing platform for the company. One of the key insights was to bring more prominence to design tools that would allow engineers to quickly find, select, simulate, and purchase products that met their exact needs.