Enterprises are launching “corporate portals,” gateway sites that act as an entryway to both a company’s Web presence and its intranet. In this column, Web consultant Kelly McKnight gives his opinion on a corporate portal, highlighting strengths and weaknesses that may translate to your company’s Web presence. The following index provides an objective look at the site’s features.
Kelly’s thoughts on the Dell Web site
In my opinion, Dell has done more than anyone else to bring down the cost of a computer. Since the last time I checked, you need a computer to surf the Net and, through its reasonable pricing, Dell has contributed greatly in the overall growth of the Internet. In the process, Dell has helped turn the computer into a commodity.

Now that you have read a little of the history of the Internet according to Kelly, let’s get on with reviewing the Dell Web site.

Dell has a nice, clean homepage that downloads quickly. I had one small disconnect on their homepage with the top navigation bar, but it was so unobtrusive that I almost missed it. If you scroll on the homepage, the disconnect disappears immediately.

If you look at their track record, you know Dell knows how to sell. After looking at their site, I think this fact has to do more with their advertising and pricing than the merchandising on their Web site.

But the site does a lot of things right. Dell starts selling by offering a nice, complete computer—keyboard, monitor, and printer included—at a nice price. Upgrading the package is easy with a dropdown menu of added features. This is a simple process only if you already know what benefits these features add.

This is a big “if.” If you don’t know what benefits you get from SRAM, Dell isn’t about to clue you in. I finally found some information in an area called “Gigabuys,” but it wasn’t enough.

The Dell “Support” area was also a letdown. The type on it was breaking up, and it crashed my computer twice.

The verdict
Dell’s Web site might have been okay in the past, but as merchandising on the Web gets more competitive, Dell better improve their site—or else they are going to find themselves in the same boat as the other “old” computer manufacturers from whom Dell got its share of market.

Kelly McKnight is a principal of Via Internet Studio, a consulting firm that specializes in corporate Web site design, Internet marketing, and e-commerce.

Now it’s your turn to review Dell’s Web site. Just click on Rate this Site!, and you can help separate the good from the bad from the ugly. It only takes a minute or two to complete your rating, so don’t waste any more time—rate this site now! For Kelly’s rating, scroll below and click to page two.