Analysis of the website

Corporate Web Communication

Term Paper, 2009

36 Pages, Grade: 1,2


Table of contents

Table of figures

1. Introduction

2. Business Objectives and Business Model

3. Audience Profile

4. Website Evaluation
4.1 Information Design
4.2 Navigation Design
4.3 Presentation Design
4.4 Accessibility
4.5 Visibility and Traffic Generation

5. Competitor Analysis

6. Summary and Overall Assessment

7. Final Conclusion and Recommendation

8. Appendix

9. List of Literature

Table of figures

Illustration 1: Screenshot of

Illustration 2: Overview of Dell’s website demographics

Illustration 3: Website update proof (1)

Illustration 4: Website update proof (2)

Illustration 5: Clean impression of Dell’s site

Illustration 6: Navigation tools – overview

Illustration 7: Navigation tools - search engine

Illustration 8: Loading time of with broadband connection

Illustration 9: Meta keywords and Meta description

Illustration 10: Overview of Page Rank results of Apple, Dell and HP

Illustration 11: Homepage traffic of Apple, Dell and HP (1)

Illustration 12: Homepage traffic of Apple, Dell and HP (2)

Illustration 13: Overview of Dell’s top in- and outbound links

Illustration 14: Porters five forces model

Illustration 15: Entry sites of Apple, Dell and HP

Illustration 16: Loading time of Apple’s, Dell’s and HP’s website

Illustration 17: What makes a person want to return to a website?

1. Introduction

In 1984, Michael Dell, a student from the University of Texas has found his own company selling computers build together from stock parts. With the philosophy of offering customers customized PC’s and selling these directly to them Dell’s company became the biggest PC seller in the United States in 2000.1 Since in 1996 Dell started to market his business predominantly over the internet. With this paper the author wants to analysis the main company homepage,, from an effectiveness perspective. On the following pages the reader will receive information about the business objective, Dell’s business models, the audience profile, the web evaluation and a competitor analysis. At the end the findings will be summed up in an overall assessment and a conclusion with a recommendation will be given.

2. Business Objectives and Business Model

The company Dell Inc. with headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, USA is regarding annual revenues after Hewlett Packard (rank 41), the second largest PC provider in the world (rank 106).2 The annual earnings increased from 41.3 in 2004 to 61.1 in 2008 (in $ Billion).3 From 2007 to 2008, the operating income increased by 12% from 3,070 to 3,440 (in $ Million). These financial facts underline Dell’s success in recent years. But what is the business objective as well as the business model of the company? Dell’s objective can be summarized in one sentence, namely to listen to customers and design, build, personalize as well as deliver goods and services they value. Since the enterprise is mainly operating directly with the customers without intermediaries4 in the supply chain the main sales channel is the internet with 176 different country websites (platforms). The reference site is a transactional B2C as well as B2B homepage although based on Dell’s 2008 annual report its major turnover source is the business sector.5 Speaking of the company’s general key means of income measured against total revenue in 2008, these are desktop PC’s (32%), mobility like notebooks plus mobile workstations (28%), software and peripherals (16%), servers and networking (11%), services like warranties (9%) plus storage (4%). The purpose of Dell’s website is to advertise, brand and sell these product categories as well as to allow interaction with the customers and provide support e.g. regarding products, drivers or order status. Moreover it is the aim of the website to build a relationship plus trust towards customers which ideally leads to customer loyalty. The website screenshot below shows the main page layout with its different sections (site design analysis will follow in a later subitem).

Illustration 1: Screenshot of

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source:, visited on 14.03.2009.

When entering the site one will see a clean and well structured user interface. For now it is enough to notice the first impression which shall stimulate visitors and underpin that Dell is a mature company carrying for their consumers. Not the company but the customer takes a center stage and this emphasizes Dell’s business objective mentioned above. The site visitors need to quickly find what they are looking for.

Linked to that is the question about the type of business model Dell uses. Out of many possibilities the firm mainly focuses on three ways to earn money in the digital era. The Texans apply the manufacturer direct model meaning the producing enterprise sells directly to the end consumer without retailers in between.6 Within the direct model approach Dell generates primarily revenue through the purchase of a good or service but also through leasing and licensing contracts. Via such a model products can be offered for a cheaper price as surcharges from retailers will be saved. On top Dell does not need to have an inventory which also saves costs and lets it react quicker to market changes. Due to these competitive advantages as well as the customization of products and services it utilizes the pull strategy which means that it has to attract customers to the website as only then cash can be generated. Therefore, it is essential that the website makes customers feel comfortable plus entraps them to purchase items.

Another business model being used by Dell also creates value for the customer. Since the company provides a limited variety of entertainment products it enlarged its portfolio with offers from leading firms of other business fields, like Sony, Kodak or Scan disk. Site visitors will also find a separate section for external on sale software (eg. Antivirus etc.). In case a customer wants to purchase a second party product Dell probably receives a commission or another benefit from the item producer. (affiliate model/revenue sharing) Apart from that Dell also offers homepage guests the possibility to interact with the company and other customers e.g. by reading and writing customer ratings about products or writing in blogs. This marketing tool is further enhanced by even having the chance to inform other people via email about a product or service one found on Dell’s homepage. The benefit for the company will be obvious when looking at a recent study from Nielsen Media, a marketing research firm that found out that viral marketing or consumer recommendations in general are the most trustworthy form of advertising with 78% of all naming in the study.7 Consumer opinions only posted online are after newspapers with 63% the third most credible type of promoting an item.

Concerning Dell’s pricing model one can find for each product group or service different price ranges dependent on the respective configuration. Generally speaking, the company can meet consumer needs in all price classes, from lower end to high end equipment. Even though the author gave only a short insight in the website design so far, it can be stated that the design supports the business objective as well as the business model.

3. Audience Profile

In 2008 approximately 73% of the North American population (circa 223 million people) had access to the internet.8 When taking the unique U.S. Dell website visitor figures provided by the internet media planner company Quantcast into account, one will find that roughly 5% of the U.S. population spends some time on Dell’s internet platform every month.9 Who are these people?

First of all the enterprise attracts private as well as business customers to its internet presence. Both target groups might have different motives for entering the site. Generally they can find information about new products, special offers, support issues, services (driver download, trainings etc.), the company itself or they might want to do purchases. From a company perspective the central intend is to generate revenue by pulling potential customers to the well arranged site and make them feel comfortable to spend money.

For a closer analysis of the audience profile the data from Quantcast can be helpful. The company provides estimated U.S. demographic figures, also for the website The illustration below constitutes the main audience issues.

Illustration 2: Overview of Dell’s website demographics

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source:, visited on 15.03.2009.

The data sheds light on aspects like sex, income, education, age and race. An index of 100 represents the average against other sites. Based on the data the website visitor is slightly more male than female with an income mostly between $ 60,000 and $ 100,000. A salary range between $ 30,000 and $ 60,000 is considered to be average for them. In terms of education an index of 101 as well as 104 signal that the people entering the site have a College or Graduate School degree more often than average. Furthermore, most Dell visitors are between 18 and 49 but the second largest group are the people above 50 years old which is with an index of 124 almost 25% higher than standard. Also the frequency that the mentioned primary age group “surfs” to the firm’s online platform is much higher than compared to the average naming. Finally, although Caucasians compose the largest visitor cluster other nationalities foremost the African-Americans are more eager to have a look on Dell’s homepage than average.

Considering the high monthly traffic of circa 11.2 million different people, one can conclude that the website is popular and in consideration of the findings above, Dell seems to exploit its potential. The site meets the customer’s needs as it is cheerful without annoying ads and offers a large product/service variety (e.g. customization, goods with different features, external articles) for all target groups. Moreover, other value propositions are the easy navigation (will be covered later on), the possibility to enter many other global dell websites plus the option to interact with the company quickly (also to be discussed later on).

4. Website Evaluation

So far the reader has received information about the business objective plus the business model of Dell’s website Apart from that the author provided an overview of the audience profile of the site. In a next step an insight will be given about the analysis of the homepage including a close look towards the information design, navigation design, presentation design, accessibility as well as the visibility and traffic.

4.1 Information Design

Dell’s website is well designed because the information the company wants to display and the site visitor is searching for is placed in a precise manner. As soon as the site is opened the user can chose between different topics as news, special deals, offers for B2C or B2B customers etc. The orientation time is short and the information presented is relevant for the purpose why people enter the site. While exploring the platform one might sometimes get a first impression to find content overlaps due to a variety of links and visual sales offers but when looking more closely Dell has indeed done a good job in providing accurate data without duplication or redundancies. Also when a buyer decided on an online purchase Dell switches from the normal protocol (http) to a more secure one (https) which is good to encourage sensitive transactions. Moreover, the homepage content is clearly updated on a constant basis as a comparison of the “Dell Deals” on the entry page on different days evidences.

Illustration 3: Website update proof (1)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: The left offer was from 16.03.2009 and the right one from 14.03.2009.

A second simple test approves this permanent ambition. By copying the phrase “javascript:alert(document.lastModified)“ into the address bar while being on the Dell website, a notification indicated that only 2 minutes before a file update had been processed. This check is based on a change of the time stamp of files on the server. The figure below shows the message.

Illustration 4: Website update proof (2)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source:, visited on 16.03.2009.

In the business area in which Dell is operating it is not only a must to keep customers informed about activities and product offers but also to provide tools that allow interactions between the company and its consumers. The Texan company enriches this communication very well as it uses many ways to advocate such an exchange. Interested people can choose between participating in a forum, sharing potential (new business) ideas, joining blogs, writing and reading product ratings or becoming active in the community area with many ways of communicating to other consumers and Dell.10 People can on top always give feedback about the website or contact the support team which will respond latest within 24 hours. In case of purchase questions a sales chat is also available.

As Dell is mainly using the internet to sell its products and services the question is what type of content is it using to support its sales? To start off with the markup language, the number 1 PC provider in the world uses the Hyper Text Markup Language (html) in the fourth version plus the eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML).11 JavaScripts are used in a very user friendly manner. On the webpage there are no pop ups or advertisement banners that would influence the shopping experience, Dell rather utilizes the technology to increase functionality of the site. For instance, it creates value to the visitor by showing the items of disposal visually from different angles (360 degree view). Besides the mentioned unobtrusive JavaScript applications a large variety of product pictures further add value to buy Dell goods or services. These photos have a high resolution and are still quick to load. In fact, the visualization supports the firm strategy since potential buyers actually see parts of the customization process e.g. the different designs for the notebook cover. Other sales options that are used to inform and convince non business visitors to spend their money are videos which have been aired as TV ads or print media with promotion deals which can also be seen online.12 Overall the webpage is dynamic with many ways to offer a compelling shopping experience.

Last issues to be shortly covered within the information design in this paper are legal policies. Does Dell mention these on its website? The answer is clearly yes. The company relies on its online business so it devoted an entire very clear structured section on this topic.13 For instance, it clarifies that mainly Dell has the copyright of the materials displayed on the site or the original developer of such. It is as well explained what cookies are and why they are utilized.

4.2 Navigation Design

The second aspect within the web evaluation deals with the navigation structure of the webpage. As soon as the main site fully appears on the monitor it catches ones eye that the site is structured in a clear and for the visitor efficient way. Basically there are four major areas. First of all on the top of the page people can choose between information “For Home”, “For Office” and “For Data Center”. [1] Below three boxes with a photo reveal information about present news, key headlines and special Dell sales promotions [2]. On the lower end detailed information about different subjects is classified into the five topics “Shop”, “Participate”, “Support”, “About Dell” and “My Account” [3]. Finally on the bottom of the site the entire product range can be accessed plus one will also find general links e.g. concerning the company, feedback or the privacy statement as well as the choice to change the language [4]. Figure 5 illustrates the approach to keep the layout simple.

Illustration 5: Clean impression of Dell’s site

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source:, visited on 17.03.2009.

This webpage design is created to fit within the Firefox browser window hence scrolling activities need to be used only in a very limited manner. Furthermore the design makes the homepage easy to work with but after clicking in both boxes “What’s new” and “Headlines” it was the only time that I found similar information (although not the same) which in my point of view could be either combined or the content should be more differentiated from each other. Apart from that the site can be characterized as being rather deep and broad. At this stage it is essential to emphasize that the site is not unstructured or heavy but in order to achieve its business objective and customer satisfaction more depth plus breadth is needed than with brochureware pages (e.g. non-updated, non value creating and static sites). The navigation design is conclusive also because of the relational instead of hierarchical site character which means that from almost every position there is a link to another topic so that one does not have to go all the way back to change the genus.


1, visited on 11.03.2009.

2, visited on 14.03.2009.

3 =en&lnki=0&s=corp#, visited on 14.03.2009.

4 Only since 2002 Dell operates small kiosks in U.S. malls and since 2006 also shops in major cities

5, visited on 14.03.2009.

6, visited on 14.03.2009.

7 vgnextoid=e7cb07dd40b55110VgnVCM100000ac0a260aRCRD, visiting 14.03.2009.

8, visited 15.03.2009.

9, visited on 15.03.2009.

10 Please see Appendix 1 for screenshots on the five major ways of interaction.

11 Please see page source of the homepage

12 " ck=anavml, visited on 17.03.2009.

13 " section=002, visited on 17.03.2009.

Excerpt out of 36 pages


Analysis of the website
Corporate Web Communication
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Corporate Web Communication, Dell,,, Homepageanalyse, Homepage analysis, website evaluation, information design, acessibility
Quote paper
Christian Baumann (Author), 2009, Analysis of the website, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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