King of WebsitesBy CWNP On 08/05/2009 - 21 Comments
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss
OK, let's talk about Wi-Fi manufacturer websites. Let's be totally honest: most of them just suck. Don't worry, I'm not going totally negative here. There is one company who has figured out just how important the public-facing part of the company really is. I'll put my flag in the dirt right here: RuckusWireless.com is the best website in the Wi-Fi industry. Bluntly, it kicks everyone else's butt. If I were grading, it would be an A+. Clean, beautiful, personal, friendly, easy navigation, and I could go on. It more-or-less lets you peer directly into the company - getting to know the people, the products, the direction, and more. They have a blog site called TheRuckusRoom.net that's equally as good. The list below isn't meant to insult anyone. It's meant as constructive feedback, because I really hope every website below could be graded as an A within a year (including our own).
Here what I think about the rest of the significant players:
CWNP (I'm happy to start in my own back yard) - C - About as bad as any of the ones I'm getting ready to list (our developer quit). We're working on it. Mostly functional, stale, and good community tools, content poor, often confusing. :(
Xirrus - B - Creative & clean, but lacking in-depth content in some areas. Not much for building a the community.
Aruba - A - All about building community, super content-rich, not all that easy to navigate (those drop-downs suck), and fairly clean.
Proxim - B - Clean and functional, fairly content-rich, not too cluttered. Not bad.
Motorola & AirDefense - Minimalist, content poor, and representative of a stuffy corporate culture.
Cisco - C - Kill me now. I'd rather put a bullet through my head than navigate this over-bloated nightmare. The only reason they didn't get an F is that they have very nice community tools - if you can find them.
Aerohive - C - Content poor, stale, updated every 6 months whether it needs it or not. :)
Trapeze - C - Their website wasn't updated at all for about 2 years, but they've finally kicked it in gear. It's just so-so presently with some decent content, some decent blurbs about their gear, etc. I should be able to upgrade them to a B soon enough.
HP/Colubris - C - A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. At least I can find printer drivers. If you go directly to Colubris.com, at least you're half way through the navigational nightmare to start with. Then it's just a matter of figuring out which way is up from there. Typical HP touch/feel.
Bluesocket - C - Clean, but minimalist (better than CWNP anyway). With their market share, I can understand why they don't have an expensive website. :)
Meru - C - Stale. Reports sit on their home page for 2 years at a time. Content poor, especially given their radical departure from traditional architecture. Boring. Need to build community.
Wildpackets - B - Not bad. Fairly content-rich, very clean and uncluttered, very functional and easy to navigate. Good touch/feel. Need more educational material for their audience.
AirMagnet - B - Functional, but very busy. A little too cluttered for my taste. Kept up-to-date, but content poor. Need more for the customer community.
Vocera - B - Very clean and easy navigation. Need more content and community-building tools.
Wi-Fi Alliance - F - STALE and hideous navigation. All-around sucky.
IEEE - F - So big that you get lost while just on the home page. Looks very nice as long as you don't need to click on anything.
Strix Systems - C - Decent, but WAY too busy. Stuff is moving all over the place. Like the videos. Navigation is tricky at best. With a little work, it could be a B.
Siemens - F - I give up. Should join forces with Avaya. Together they could have the least intuitive website ever.
Polycom - C - Clean as a whistle, but content poor and no community tools. If you just want to buy stuff from Polycom, this site is for you. At least it isn't cluttered given their product portfolio.
Network Instruments - B - Nice touch/feel, no community tools, content poor, easy navigation.
Extricom - C - Minimalist, but clean. Reflects market share. Nothing for community, content-poor.
Fluke Networks - C - Stuffy, busy, not intuitive. No community tools, and content poor.
Ekahau - B - Clean, functional, fun, beautiful. Content poor, no community tools.
BelAir - C - Minimalist, but clean and easy to navigate. No community tools, not very pretty, and content poor.
AirTight - B - Content-rich, fun, easy to navigate. The weird thing is that the home page and other pages don't navigate the same way. They must be amidst an upgrade or something. They need a bit more for community as well.
AeroScout - A - Content rich, easy navigation, clean, very nice touch/feel. All around, not bad at all.
FireTide - B - Clean, easy navigation, a decent amount of content, no community tools, somewhat minimalist. Barely a B, but a B all the same.
Now then... Don't agree? There's a place for comments below. :) I love great websites. I hate bad ones. There are all kind of things to consider about what makes a website "good." Navigation, community tools, friendliness, touch/feel/look, support section, media tools, learning-centered content, product-centered content, company-centered content, multimedia content, and so much more. All-in-all, in my humble opinion, Ruckus is in the lead. Their support website could use additional work, but it's not that bad really. Who will be the first to follow Ruckus's lead?
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