Simplifying the experience

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From minimal…

Minimal

This is one of my rants. It’s going to be about how companies name their computers and how simplifying that naming is the way to go. It is also about how their websites should present the products. Yes, it’s pro Apple because they make the most sense with the names they picked for the Macs and no, I don’t care if you don’t agree. If you don’t like it you can stop reading now.

For most users buying a computer is a big deal. They don’t know about processors and the differences between them, they don’t care whether you have an Uber_XYZ_3d_super_buffer_output sound card or if the computer has a BIOS access program that lets you set the RPM of the HD per minute per hour of the day. They just want to buy the computer so they can go online and email, write in their blog, watch a movie or listen to music.

So, if I am an average user and I go to dell.com this is what I get when I check for laptops:

  • For Home
  • For Small and Medium Business
  • For Public Sector
  • For Large Enterprise

OK… whatever. Lets assume I am a private user so I chose For Home and then Laptops because that’s what I want to buy. I am presented then with:

  • An infinite list of stupid marketing buzzwords and not actual laptop information.

Oh, wait! On the menu on the left, with the small font I can see the options:

  • Inspiron laptops
  • Studio laptops
  • Alienware laptops (beg your pardon?)
  • Studio XPS laptops
  • Mini netbooks
  • Adamo

Right. OK. What is what? Which one is the best for me? How do I know where to even begin?
Since I am clever, I will click on Inspiron. It’s the first in the list, that’s a good place to start, right?

I am presented with a “Showing 1-12 of 22 Results. Select a product or use the checkboxes to compare products.” followed by the list of laptops with all the technical information. Hmmmm…. but… are these OK? what’s the difference with an Alienware laptop? What the fuck is an Alienware laptop?

I then check the Alienware laptops.

Nothing happened. It shows me the same list. No comparisons… Oh, I had both Inspiron and Alienware checked… Silly me… OK, I unchecked Inspiron and I get: “No configurations are valid for the chosen filters“. So, why do you even show me that as an option then?

Anyway, after browsing each an every model on for home I am still clueless as to what I want, so I checked small and medium business, since these are for business they might be better organized and with better names. Nop.

  • Latitude
  • Vostro
  • Inspiron Laptops
  • Studio Laptops
  • Precision Mobile Workstations
  • Gaming Laptops
  • Studio XPS Laptops
  • Mini Netbooks
  • Adamo

Gaming laptops? For business? At least I know what they are for…

So after a couple of hours of browsing I still don’t know what I want. So I went to Google and I search Dell reviews. 1,800,368 hits. Ha! Whatever!

Now let’s see Apple. I go to apple.com and I can see a menu at the top that says Mac. I know Apple computers are called Macs so I click that. What do I see?

  • Macbook
  • Macbook Pro
  • Macbook Air
  • iMac
  • Mac Mini
  • Mac Pro

All of them with a clear picture of what they look like and what they are. So, since I am looking for a laptop I check the Macbooks. What can I notice right away? Pro. I know that anything called pro is better than anything not pro and hence more expensive so I go for the Macbook since I want a simple laptop. I click on the image and I get a webpage that clearly shows me what the laptop looks like, what it does, the features in non techie terms and the ways to buy it. If I want to see more details I can click on tech specs and there they are.
Just out of curiosity I check also the Pro so I know what the difference is. So I go to the compare page and right there, without having to read the tech specs I get a clear view of the differences and the prices. Simple.

After 10 minutes on the website I bought a Macbook.

Apple makes it easy for people like my mother to buy a computer without feeling stupid. They make it easy by having fewer products (quality vs quantity), having products names that are easily recognizable and easy to remember (do you know what the Dell Latitude E5400N is?) and finally they have a website that makes it easy for your to understand the differences between the models and pick the one that is best for you.

Sony is a bit better at this than Dell (they are all called Vaio but they are Z, N, XX), but Toshiba is a bit better than Sony, but LG? More confusing that Dell. What is an LG R560-L.ARC3BA9? What’s the difference with an LG R580-U.ARC3BA9? Will I even remember the model tomorrow? Damn…

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