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In the exploding world of e-commerce, the ability of a company to attract customers using websites is critical for the company’s success. The use of the website by two computer manufacturers, Dell and Compaq, is evidence of this fact. Dell is the forerunner in the direct marketing of computers to customers via the Internet. As the success of Dell’s marketing approach became apparent, other computer companies such as Compaq have tried to market their product directly via the Internet as well. In evaluating the Dell and Compaq computer websites, several areas had to be assessed and compared for their effectiveness in promoting the product. The four main areas included in the evaluation of the websites were the target audiences for each company, the style chosen for the website, the content of each website, and the structure of each website. However, the experience of Dell in direct marketing has allowed them to create a website that is more effective for a wide customer base than the Compaq website is.
The first area of evaluation was the comparison of the target markets for both Dell and Compaq. In evaluating the Dell homepage, the target audience was determined to be businesses and government institutions. The Dell homepage contains five links to other areas of the website, one each for small businesses, large businesses/healthcare, education, government, and home/home office. In splitting the business into four categories, the emphasis Dell places on business customers is evident and identifies its target audience as predominately business and government customers. However, Dell is obviously vying for individual computer sales to homes and consumers. In addition, in examining the Dell homepage, the target audience can also be identified as customers who are users of the Internet, as Dell does not sell computers in stores. Dell is a direct retailer of computers and uses the Internet as its primary source for customers to place orders, although Dell does allow for phone sales as well.
In contrast, examination of the Compaq homepage identifies the primary target audience of Compaq to be home computer users. Compaq advertises discounted computer models directly on its homepage, creating a sense that Compaq is attracting home users since home users tend to shop for computer deals. Businesses on the other hand, tend to obtain their discounts by purchasing computers in bulk quantities. However, Compaq is seeking business customers as evidenced by its links for small and medium businesses, enterprise businesses, government institutions, and educational institutions.
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"Compairing the Websites of Dell Computer and Compaq Computer." 123HelpMe.com. 28 Mar 2020
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The style of both the Dell and Compaq websites is fairly traditional and conservative. The Dell homepage uses a primarily white background with black lettering but does use a blue background with gray lettering for its corporate and services menus and an orange background with black lettering for its what’s new, press releases, and programs menus. Dell also uses different colors to highlight and draw attention to the different areas of the homepage such as home users, small businesses, large businesses, government, and education. In addition, the Dell homepage uses a variety of colors to accentuate the links to its Internet service, auction service, refurbished products, and accessories store. In the remaining pages of the website, Dell remains conservative in its choice of style. The additional pages use a white background with primarily black lettering although the use of blue and red wording is incorporated to accentuate and emphasize particular points concerning each product it sells. The graphics incorporated into the Dell homepage are conservative as well. On the Dell website, the graphics are primarily used to show the customer the product that is offered by Dell. Although Dell does incorporate some moving graphics into their web page, the majority of the graphics used are still photos of the product line and graphics to accentuate links.
The Compaq homepage is fairly conservative as well, primarily using a white background with black or gray lettering. Compaq does incorporate some lettering in other colors on its homepage, such as green and purple, to accentuate various links. However, Compaq does use an orange background on its featured discount computers to draw attention to these particular links and draw customers to these areas. In the remaining pages of the website, Compaq remains conservative in its style choices by using white backgrounds with primarily black or gray lettering and only incorporating other colored lettering to accentuate links and important points. In addition, the graphics used by Compaq were conservative as well. The graphics were primarily still photos showing the product that Compaq is selling although Compaq did incorporate moving graphics on occasion to draw attention to certain links on the web pages and draw people to particular areas of the site.
The content of both the Dell and Compaq websites were extremely thorough in specifying the different product lines. On the Dell website, the links to access the different product lines were straight forward and quick to access. Once in the product lines page, a brief description of each product series was given, which included a photograph of the product, and an additional link was provided to allow quick access to a thorough specification of all the recommended computer systems. In addition, Dell provides a link to an online store allowing previous customers to purchase hardware and software for upgrading their current systems.
On the Compaq website, the amount of information provided was not as thorough as was given on the Dell website. In order to access the computer product lines and specification information, additional links and time were required as compared to the Dell website. In addition, the specification information supplied by Compaq on their web page did not cover the computer components as thoroughly as the Dell website. However, the information supplied was sufficient enough for a home user to decide which computer to purchase. For Compaq business customers, however, the amount of information supplied is not sufficient to determine which computer systems would be able to run efficiently in a business environment. In general, the content of both websites was consistent with the target audiences that each was trying to reach. In Dell’s case, businesses would need more information on the computer components to determine whether or not the computer would be sufficient to run within a business environment. Compaq, in staying with their target audience of home users, provided only the information needed by a home user to make a decision on a computer.
The structures of the Dell and Compaq websites were well thought out by the respective companies. The structures of both websites allowed for easy maneuvering through the information available on the websites. Although both websites allowed users to access the information they require by using only a few links, the Dell webpage was more efficient in their use of links and was able to accomplish the accessing of information in less time. In many cases, the Compaq website used extra links in accessing the same information as the Dell website. Compaq did use links on their homepage to draw customers to discounted computers, which Dell did not do. In both the Dell and Compaq website, the use of frames is also indicative of the use of the Java programming language. On both websites, a series of menus line either side of the page allowing for quick maneuverability to specific areas of the website. The use of such menus allows the user to maneuver through the website without "getting lost" and keeps the user interested in the site. In addition, the structures of both sites are well thought out since neither site incorporates large graphics files. The use of large graphics files slows the loading of the site. In some instances for users accessing the Internet via modem, large graphics files slow the loading of the page enough that the user eventually "gives up" on the site and moves on. Therefore, by not using large graphics files, Dell and Compaq insure a quick load and retain the user for their website.
In the use of the Internet by Dell and Compaq, both companies provide a high quality website in which the companies are able to market and sell their product effectively via this media. In several areas, the Dell website allows for quicker access to necessary information and also provides more detailed information on their product. However, the difference in their current primary target audiences, allows Compaq to achieve their goals using the less detailed information and slower access to information. In the future however, as Compaq continues to grow into the markets typically serviced by Dell and as Dell continues to grow into the markets typically serviced by Compaq, the necessity for more information and quicker access to this information will become more essential. Therefore, increased competition with Dell will require Compaq to adapt their website to new audiences in order to compete with the more effective Dell website.