Billionaire Jack Ma, Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman, talks about his unusual entrepreneurial beginnings at Stanford University on May 4, 2013. See what else he has to say about e-commerce and the China opportunity.
Alibaba.com users may have noticed something different about the international B2B website's home page lately. The front door has been refreshed and brought up-to-date with a cleaner appearance and improved navigation.
In addition to a general de-cluttering (links to underused and outdated website functions were removed), one of the home page's more significant changes is an upgraded navigation bar. The bar features drop-down menus that point the way to the e-commerce tools most frequently used by Alibaba.com buyers and suppliers. A tab has also been added so that members can quickly access new messages from potential customers or suppliers.
Further down the page, rotating banners provide quick access to Alibaba.com value-added services such as customized sourcing, product inspection and AliExpress, the website's global platform for direct online purchasing of small numbers of products. Near the bottom of the page there are even links to Alibaba.com's pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Trendy.
The changes, while cosmetic, are a welcome move to modernize an English-language website that's been around since 1999 and for several years has been criticized for its shopworn appearance and confusing organization. The home page revamp is more than skin deep—it sets the design tone for the entire site, which is gradually being overhauled, according to Alibaba.com International Marketing Manager Maverick Fang. Fresh design standards are reflected in a new user guide for buyers, as well as this updated customized sourcing page and U.S. channel page.
The goal, says Fang, is to make the website easier to use for both buyers and sellers by optimizing navigation according to the needs of each. Alibaba.com is using IP-address detection to identify the geographic location of visitors in order to present the most relevant content. For example, some Chinese-language content will be displayed on the home page to suppliers from China; product recommendations are also tailored according to users' locations and browsing histories.
Other important features, such as the website's Community and Help sections, will be redesigned and relaunched in coming weeks. "The home page is 90 percent finished," says Fang, "but we are changing more pages on the site according to the new design, hoping to launch all of them before the end of 2012."
Alibaba.com is encouraging feedback on the changes from users. Feel free to leave a comment below, or respond by taking this quick customer survey.