Support Site

The How’s, What’s and Why’s of the Support Site Redesign [INTERVIEW]

We feel it’s really important to communicate with our customers the changes that we’re making to our support process. Earlier today we had a catch up with our Online Support Department team to find out the thought process behind the new features and alterations to the site.

We quizzed Jon Dainton, our Online Support Manager, and Matthew Gorton, our Online Support Co-Ordinator, to find out the what’s, why’s and how’s of the redesign.

What was the driving factor behind the revamp of the Support Site?

Jon: There were a few factors that influenced this change. From listening to customers we were made aware that the PDF guides were not in an easy to find location and were often missed. We also launched a number of features that didn’t fit well within the current navigation sets on the support site. There was also a nagging suspicion in our minds that customer support was a faceless entity, and we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves a little more, and to give customers an insight into the amount of work we do to make our customers lives easier.

Which 3 new/redesigned features do you feel Fasthosts customers will find most useful and why?


Matthew: I love the Domain Health Reporter. A large number of requests to our support team stem from problems with DNS and the set up of domain names. These issues are often tricky to diagnose at home, but simple to fix. A lot of work went into creating this tool and we’re really happy with the results and it’s ease of use in diagnosing a range of related issues.

Jon: The status page has also had a recent  revamp, to make it easier to see and show the important information as quickly as possible. Finally, we’re really excited about the new Webinars that Ian Morris is producing. There’s a lot of potential there for some really great content that goes beyond our traditional boundaries of support.

What is the thought process behind the layout of the redesign?

Jon: Our support site has traditionally been very content driven, and has concentrated on delivering knowledge base articles, however, additional services that we offer were being lost in this layout.

Matthew: Customers use the support site for many different reasons, and have different ways of searching for the same information. Any redesign had to take this into account, so we wanted to create a site that was slightly more visual in it’s appearance but still allowed customers the ability to visit specific areas of the site within a click, without the need to search dropdown menus and text driven tabs (unless they want to!).

What advice would you give to anyone looking to redesign their support site?


Matthew: Think about how your customers use the site, and what information they may want. When we designed the site we created a number of customer “personas” with different methods of searching for information, and different needs. We then put these personas through different scenarios and saw how the information they required changed. Once we had that information we could start designing the layout and navigation to match their needs.

Jon:  In addition to that, constant evaluation and feedback is important to ensure that the site remains usable and identify any areas where you can make improvements. We use Google Analytics and customer feedback/surveys to judge the performance of the support site and this is an ongoing task. When it comes to the actual design and architecture of the content that you want to deliver there are many ways of building models (personas was the one that worked for us). I tend to be a regular visitor to which is a very good website devoted to information architecture and has a number of articles and case studies that look into this field.

How do you think support has changed in the last 12 months and what do you think the future of online support will look like?


Matthew: We are very much in the information age at the moment, with a vast array of content on all aspects of our life and technology available at the press of a button. There is also a move  from static articles to a more visual support across many different platforms. Videos appear to have been the big thing in the last couple of years, but I’m yet to see a video tutorial system from any company with a navigation and menu system that matches everyone’s needs.

Jon: We have been considering an integrated range of tutorials that you can drop in and out of that will take you through the entire Fasthosts suite of products (a little like the choose your own story books that were around in the ‘80s), the challenge is to keep it up to date with rapidly changing software and available technology. The overall trend will be to be much more proactive in delivery, and individual in its content, you can gather a little information from a customer (such as a domain name) and provide liquid content.

Matthew: While there will always be a place for the library style articles and guides that have been the traditional heartbeat of a support site, We can see this being more focused towards reference material with many support sites changing their focus into the contributing to the community and being much more interactive in its support content.

What can Fasthosts customers look forward to in the future from the Online Support department?


Matthew: As always we will be listening to comments from customers and analysing the way that our support site works, in addition to this we are planning a new area of the support site where we can introduce our products, and explain them a little more (rather than just what they do and how to install them), we have many products that on their own are useful, but in combination with other services can really exceed the sum of their parts. It would be good to demonstrate this a little more and really start focusing on solutions rather than fixes to problems.

Jon: I would also love to get our “How the Internet Works” tutorials live. These are a set of tutorials that really show you how the internet works, and is something that I originally wrote for myself when I was learning these technologies. They won’t solve any initial problems, but they are designed to be lighthearted and easy to understand, and to show that the internet is a collection of very simple concepts designed by some very clever people. That said, there may be more, so watch this space!

This article was written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator at Fasthosts Internet Ltd.

Thank you to both Jon Dainton and Matt Gorton.

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