By Aaron Hand
Last year at this time, Rockwell Automation was getting set to launch its new Allen-Bradley website, giving engineers a quicker and easier way to access products and technical information. At this year's Automation Fair in Chicago, Rockwell Automation is finding out from its customers, partners and other site users not only whether they got it right, but also what users would like to see in the next new site launch, this time for rockwellautomation.com.
Rockwellautomation.com is the corporate site, geared toward a broader set of users—whether engineers or corporate executives, users or distributors, old friends or new faces. "Any level of user could hit this site," says Denise Lafuse, architect, user experience, for Rockwell Automation, noting that this makes it a bit more difficult to provide just the kind of experience each user wants.
Regardless, Rockwell Automation has taken a lot of steps to help ensure that information is quicker and easier to get to, Lafuse says. Improvements include new site sections such as News & Innovations, which contains case studies and other stories; Sales & Partners, with localized, drill-down capabilities into all of Rockwell Automation's major partners; and Products & Technology, where site developers are still working out the best way to help users find the information they need, whether or not they're familiar with Rockwell Automation products. Another significant change is the development of a site specific to the United States (with U.S.-specific training and events, for example), which has previously been rolled into the worldwide site.
The new design, which will roll out to the corporate site, the new U.S. site and all 39 existing country-specific sites, is scheduled for release by the end of next year, Lafuse says. The site developers are doing a lot of testing at the Automation Fair, with computers at the Rockwell Automation Connection dome and tablet-equipped employees roaming around the show floor. "Then we'll look at the data, make refinements and start building in December or January," she adds.
Meanwhile, Rockwell Automation continues its strong presence in the full range of social media platforms, which is also showcased at the Connection booth. At computers in the booth, as well as at the online Connection, you can make quick connections to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare and Flickr pages for Rockwell Automation company-wide information, as well as topic-specific forums related to safety, news, process solutions, education and, of course, the Automation Fair itself. All of this information is easily accessible on mobile devices through QR codes throughout the booth.
There's another useful QR code that you can find at Automation Fair this year—the Automation Fair Navigator. Located outside the show floor, it uses Interactive Wayfinder technology to help you find your way to a particular exhibitor or subject area. Through the QR code, you can get access to the Automation Fair mobile app that lets you search for exhibitors, view maps, browse session information, build your schedule and more.