Enterprise Intranets

Ensuring Dell's user experience is consistant across it's roughly 7,000,000 pages worldwide, MODX powers the Dell Design Library.

By The MODX Team
December 1, 2011
Enterprise Intranets

Mixing it up with many users, and making sure search just works.

The Dell Design Library is run by Global Site Design (GSD), Dell’s internal interactive design group. They’re responsible for transforming Dell.com’s user experience across the site’s roughly 7,000,000 pages globally.

Dell Design Library on MODX

The Challenge

Rebuilding online properties as massive as Dell's requires starting with a firm foundation. GSD needed to create a modular design system consisting of a relatively small number of parts and templates that can be rearranged almost infinitely to build any desired webpage. These parts and templates, along with the instructions for using them, needed to be housed in a centralized location, the Library.

While the Library would be primarily used by Dell.com user experience designers and architects, web developers and content strategists, it also had to be easily accessible by 100,000+ Dell employees, or any one of its external partners. The Library needed to work intuitively, without requiring extensive (and expensive) training.

The Solution

Jonathan Atkins, UX Director, GSD, was instrumental in designing the Library its functionality. He needed a faceted classification system in which every document is tagged using closed vocabularies associated with a core set of attributes.

"Along with the facet tags we applied to each document, we applied an open folksonomy, which enables content authors to tag any document with a list of synonyms," said Jonathan. "For example, some banner variations are also tagged with their Dell-internal nickname, Godzillatrons (’cause, really, what’s bigger than a Jumbotron?). By using a folksonomy, we ensured that users could find things based on their nicknames as well as the official names."

"Rather than running searches against keywords in the documents as most search engines do, we built a system that runs parametric searches against the meta-data from the information architecture described above. This provides more relevant results than you’re likely to get from performing a simple keyword search," he added.

After evaluating their options, the Dell UX team decided to build the site on MODX Revolution. MODX provided a scalable solution that enabled a quick initial launch, thanks to its ease of integrating standards-based HTML/CSS templates into the CMS data using Template Variables. After our initial launch, they were able to expand the site’s functionality through MODX’s powerful PHP framework. More importantly, the efforts are paying off. Dell's Canadian SMB site was the first to re-launch using the patterns found in the Library, and it won a 2011 Webby Award for Best IT Site.

Dell Design Library Project Highlights

  • See it in action at DellDesignLibrary.com
  • Listen to Jonathan discuss the Library in his screen cast at Vimeo
  • The unifying and definitive style guide responsible for transforming Dell's roughly 7,000,000 pages on the Internet
  • Faceted Navigation to make it easy for all users to find exactly what they're searching for
  • Both public and Dell-only resources behind logins
  • Serves multiple stakeholders—designers, front end developers, end users
  • Custom MODX Resource to version variations of the Patterns, descriptions and associated files
  • Taxonomy & Folksonomy classifications
  • Thousands of Design Patterns and Versions