Comparison Table
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CriteriaA2 HostingGoogleCMS support documentation (Wordpress)Youtube tutorials / VimeoGodaddy Support ServiceByethost Support AreaYahoo answersAsking someone else (friends, professor, IT guy)Technical Forum (Stackoverflow)Social MediaGenius Bar (Hardware support services)Github Support AreaSquareSpace
Variance of target populationThe major target audience is individual and small business (probably more than 90% percent).Anyone with access to the internet can use Google. It is widely regarded as one of the best search engines availablepeople who want to build their website without too much coding. People without savvy computer skills can use it, but it takes time to learn. Customization also requires learning and sort of advanced knowledge.Everyone from experts to novices can use resources found on video search sites. These sites offer a variety of styles and levels of information. targets from web novice to large business. Can't get demographic data. The variance may be caused by the long history and good marketing strategy (much higher media exposure than A2 Hosting)Range from individuals to small business owners. Very famous for its fast and steady free hosting service. However, because there is limited traffic for users using the free hosting service, its free service users are always individuals and small business owners.The target population is very diverse. It ranges from people seeking personal help to asking the chicken and egg question.The target population is very diverse. It ranges from people seeking personal help to asking the chicken and egg question.novices can look at the forums but it is targeted towards people with more advanced technical skillsDepending on the type of social media site, information can be crowdsourced or simply searched. This type of information seeking allows for quickler access to information than forums or messageboards in a siliar way as they do. Variable- Services such as these are a great way for customers to realize that they are having software issues versus hardware issues. They can be directed to the proper resources or sent away with no answers. Either way they must leave to find answers alsewhere. Mostly developerTarget population are small business owners and individuals looking to get a portfolio or blog or any sort of a website
EngagementThe supporting meterials are not that engaging since most of them are just texts (some of them even are not formated or aligned well) The webpage design is not visually appealingsearch queries can lead to engaging content like images, videos, games mostly words that are written in clear format without much professional phrases. Also, codes are always provided when they are needed.Vidoes are a great way to show a large amount of information in a small amount of time. If the videos is interesting and interactive the user should ahve no problems with engagement.Mostly words. Pictures are seldom used. People can rate an article by clicking a button "This was helpful"After logging into cPanel, the tutorials that can be viewed use a lot of words and a few videos, and they contain special/professional phrases that might not be immediately understood by users without savvy computer skills. 2. on the introductory page of various hosting services, there are video tutorials.Questions and answers are usually text based and occasionally contain links to outside resources. The question can be watched, answered or followed.The question can also be shared via Email, FB, twiter and other socila media.Phone, Skype, IM, E-mail or Face to face conversation.mostly words or code, sometimes people link to websites, which can be more engagingThis method of information gathering is usually accompanied by social interaction and conversation. This allows the user to be engaged as well as involved in solving the problem they have. In the case of hardware serviceing the customer may have no input while their device is being "worked on". Once there is evidence that a hardward probloem does not exist, there may be much more engagement in conversation with the technition. They did a quite good job on engaging people. They even collaborated with codecademy to provide a game-like online interactive tutorial ( uses a very infographic approach in it's website, it is designed beutifully to capture viewers attention while maintaining usability.
Availability / Accessibility24/7/365 call support (good feedback from customers)
ticket, email are supported well during work hours. Live chat is not always available (heard some complaints from customers)
Since it is a web-based platform, it is available 100% of the time. Tutorials in words and forums are always available.Since these are web based platforms they are available 100% of the time. 24/7 call support (around 20min wait time). Not sure about online contact avaialability1. A "Get Started?" pop-up window will show up everytime the user logs into the CPanel (can choose 'do not show again'). 2. In CPanel, "Help&Tutorials" and "Support Tickets" options are in the main page - easy to be accessed. 3. In CPanel, after choosing "support forum," user needs to regester another account in order to post 4. in the Homepage of Byethost, after clicking "contact and support," users need to register an account other than their cPanel accounts to go futher.24/7 via is limited, depends on who the person is. If it is a IT guy who is a co-worker, might only be available during working hours. Where as a friend is available beyond office hours.Since it is a web-based platform, it is available 100% of the time. similar to online vidoes, social media outlets are always available.These types of services are usually available during normal or extended business hours only. The online resources are always availableThe resources are always available, to non-members as well as members.
Methods of contactingcall, email, ticket, live chatNo direct contact method to this site. Users do not even have a way to contact each other no direct contacting method. but users' posts in forum are replied by each other and also by wordpress people (volunteer moderaters).There is no direct contact method to this type of site. It is all user based search. The only mode of communication would be between / submit ticket (no live chat or email)Mainly submitting tickets.seems no phone number provided.Internet and web browser.Phone, Skype, IM, E-mail or Face to face direct contact, but users can contact each other, moderaters can comment?There is slightly more availability to contact people via social media, however the contact is not always guarentted to know the solution or anything about the problem.There are knowledgable staff at places like these. While they are not specifically software people, they usually have a weatlh of knowledge. They are also more likely to poinjt a customer in the right direction. Just emailMostly chat or e-mail based commnication.
Information access methods? (search/browse)searching and browsing are both supported. But the categories of knowledge base are not organized. Search function is limited. No filter or sort features are supported in the search result pageit is a search engine (however, you may have to browse through lots of information to get what you want?) great. 1. on the homepage, a simple and very basic 3 step tutorial is directly shown with links to other deeper and more complex tutorials. 2. Documentation and forum can be direcly accessed by clicking "support" on the main page. 3. a search bar is provided in the forum 4. the whole documentation map is provided on every documentation page. 5. however, no search bar in the documentation section.The search method is very easy. What makes this difficult is the filtering of irrevelant data. search function is good, they have autocomplete feature to help users search the right keywords. Browsing is normal. no big difference from A2 HostingNo search option except in the byet forum. Mainly browse.Can be browsed via pre determined categories, which or broad or search using provided search function is easy to use but doesn't always ensure you will get the exact query you are looking for searching through social media sites that are not specifically dedicated to software technology issues can be cumbersome and difficult. There is no "search" method here. Typically a question will be asked and answered.Support both searching and browsing. They provide searching autocompate featureSearch is predominant, but there is also facilitation to browse fro content that is laid out intelligently.
Reviewabilityarticles can be booked. But there's no in-site feature to review the results you've browsed or the keywords you've searchedunable to save searches but it will be saved in your internet history or as bookmarks unable to save pages in a listVideos can be watched over and over again.article could be bookmarked. But there's no function to review the article you've viewed before in the siteUsers can review tickets they submited. Users can have subscribed posts in the forum.Question can be followed, for review later on.Limited, unless the conversation is via IM or emailposts and messages are stored virtually making them infinitely reviewableposts, and messages are stored virtually making them infinitely reviewable.Reviewability here would require mental recalection, relying on note taking, or simply asking the question again. No way to review the articles you've searched or browsedReviewability is a major part, as most resources are available all the time and also the communication is primarily via e-mail when solving tickets, so it can be looked up easily.
Peer-integrated contentThe knowledge base does not allow customers' content or comments. They have a forum which nobody actually uses. some search queries may lead to peer-integrated content members can be volunteer moderators that help other members in the forumAll of the content is user generatedUsers can comment and rate, but have no way to postForum posts are mainly generated by users.Answers is all about peer generated contentLargely based on peer knowledge. content is user generatedAll of the content is user generatedThe customer support may be by someone who is a similar age, but the level of expertise may cause it to feel instructional.Users cannot add, edit or rate the articlesThey have a modern, reddit/digg like forums system where users can interact with each other, seek and provide help to each other.
Response timeBased on interview and survey results, they did a quite good job on response time for call. While we heard from complaints on tickets and live chat response timesearch queries are instant forum queries are sometimes quickly responded, sometimes queries are instantN/Asome customers online said that it often took Byethost several days to reply them. And sometimes the responses are not valuable.Can varie fro minstant to 4 days after which it is closed or can be re-opened by original authorMostly immediate, or atmost a queries are instant but 5: if you ask a question, unsure of when you will get a replySince the data may have to be sifted through or it may be expected to wait for a response from someone.There are often long lines in these places. When a customer does get to ask a question the response should be instant. N/AResponse time in the forums seems to be variable, if it is an important topic it is addressed almost instantly but if it is not it may take a few days. If contacting support, the response time is around 2-48hrs
Consistency of designdesign consistency is not implemented well. Some elements are confusing. They have multiple navigation style.layout is same across the site very consistentThe layout is always the same on the same site and often times it is similar across sitesA2 Hosting redesigned their website main areas recently. They are getting flatter. But it seems they did not put much emphsis on the support areas so it looks not that modern. We can see design bugs in the support areas ctually the design is very simple and rough. The consistency is so so - even with such simple design, some pages' styles (e.g. forum) are different from each other.Very consistent, has minimal functional design that doesn't overwhelm the userNAlayout is pretty similar across site, each forum post is the same layouteach individal site is consistant in its design, however across the sites there is a wider variety of designsDifferent locations within a single chain may be similar, but there is a very wide variety of types of places. They did a good job on design consistencyThere is a definite and elegant consistancy of design, most resources are presented in a minimal, yet informative way.
Use of images / infographicsLimited image or infographic usageoption to search for images, original homepage has one image seldome usage of image.They are videosVery few images or infograpicsseldomeLimited usageMay use illustrations to explain the point but highly not possible.very few images / infographicsposts are often words this category relies on person to person interactionYes, they used a log of images and infographicsMajor part of Squarespace's website is driven by pictures and infographics.
Color schemeMostly green (not consistent)very plain and simple, lots of white very niceNAgreeen and blueyou will not hate it - but will definitely want it to be fancier.Purple and white, it's a yahoo thing.NAvery few colors, lots of white / blackNANALight blue and white. Clean and elegantDiffers, usually black and white with occasional color accents
PriceYou can view the resources for free, but has to pay to register as a member to call or submit a ticket for helpfree freefreeYou can view the resources for free, but has to pay to register as a member to call or submit a ticket for helpfor free, but the advice quality is not good.FreeCan be paid if consulting, but usually freefree to usefreeoften advice is free however it may cost the customer money to find out they do not have a hardware problem.FreeFree support when subscibed to Squarespace.
Time vs. CostCall: usually could have instant response
Ticket: depends on the issue and the workload of the support team. Typically will responde within a day
searching through data may make the effort not worth it.when wanting simple help, search can be quick. But in terms of complex information, it takes time (sometimes a lot) to find an answer.searching through data may make the effort not worth it.Call: Usually need to wait for around 20 mins
Ticket: don't know response time
customers need to wait for a long time. And often there is no real effective solution.Since it's free, a lot of time has to be dedicated if the question being looked for doesn't already exist.Since domain knowledge would be high, issues should be resolved pretty quickly, if not alternatives are provided rather quicklysearching through data may make the effort not worth it, can also ask people in forum but you will never be sure you'll get the right answer or when you will get an answerthere is much less relevant information to sift throughOften there is no real solution provided and a lot of effort to go to a physical loaction.N/A
Membership/Registration required?Ticket and live chat area requires memebership. Others membership or registration is requiredUsers can choose to register in Codex to edit each page for their own membership required although it is available.Ticket area requires memebership. Others not.No.Need to register for yahoo e-mail. May or maynot allow other e-mail sign ups.Maybe,no membership or registration is required, but you can get more perks if you do register membership is required although it is free.membership is not required although there may be a fee.You view all the resources in the help center without registration
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Clear categorizationNot clear enough. Knowledge base has some overlapped categories. Some of them are either too specific or too "geeky"the categories are very clearvery clear - can be studied.Videosharing sites typically lack organization by category Seems clearer than A2hosting. They have much more contents and categories so they seem to encourage users to use searching function rather than browsingThe cPanel organization is good. Everything is presented in reasonable categories on the mian page. However, the catergorization on the Homepages of various hosting services (before users' logining into cPanel) is not clear. The support/tutorials entrances are not salient.Has pre determined broad categories, after which categorization is non-existent. For example all computer related questions are in one category, but questions specific to dell computers don't have any further categorizations.NAnot many effective categories from site (they use featured, interesting) mainly use tags that connect with search but since they are user generated, can be buggy There is no way to organize information other than linking it individually. This can allow non related information to be lionked mistakenly.NAwell-done on categorization
Clear navigationThe navigation is OK. While the landing page could be improvied by better navigation designsearch bar is front and center, obvious and the navigation bar at the top is spaced out and provides clear categoriesthe navigation map is always on the right of every documentation page, which helps users to choose. However, no navigation link provided (home-troubleshooting-XXX) on each page, which may cause confusion.There is not much to navigating a video sharing site. Standard search protocls are in place. confusing at first sightGenerally speaking, the navigation is OK. There are not many layers so users can remember where they come from. However, users are often not provided with navigation links such as "home-control panel-tutorials." There is always a new page opened in a seperate window without the navigation link.Breadcrumb nav assistance at the top.NA multiple navigations going on, one for questions, one for stackoverflow site itself Navigation through a social media chanel can be very ambiguous. NAThey put 4 big icons at the top to navigate the novice user
Content relevanceThey put all relevant contentstries to provide most relevant content and works for more popular topics but may not always provide the most relevant resultsalmost all the relevant informationWhile some information may be very relevant, some may be not at all relevant.They surely put all relevant contentsThe content is always relevant.Dpeends on the peer generated content, it can be unrelated or extremely usefu;/NAsearching for most relevant content but it does depend on user-generated tags and the way people word their questions, can be unreliable at times Social media allows any user to enter information so the information can be very irrelevantNAAll contents are relevant to git/github
Multiple languagesNo. English Onlymore than 150 languages34 languages for documentation. But for other parts, only EnglishThere are many videos in many languages. In addition there are video sharing sites that differ in other countries. Yes. English, Espanol and Português12 languages.Avail in 20 languagesMaybe.usually english only, some other countries have SO in their own language, users are able to post in their own language but it is not preferred usuallyThere are social media outlets in just about every modern language. Unless that customer service representative is multi-lingual there may be a serious lack of languages.Not supported
RedundancyThey did a good job on avoiding content redundancynot redundant, everything seems to have it's own place on the sitenot redundant Video sharing sites have tons of redundancy. This can make navigation very difficult as well as choosing what the best and most appropriate information is. I think they provided relevant contents.OK. not very concise in teaching users how to do a certain thing, and at the same timea similar content would only appear in one place.Can have redundant questions, but Answers tries to suggest existing questions when typing a new question to help combat this.NAnot too redundant, but categories and tags can overlap at timesSince social media is user generated there is often a huge amount of redundancy in data. This may make it difficult to choose what the right data is. The only redundancy with this type of competitor is if there are mulitple locations or multiple employees who can answer the same questions.The tutorials are all good, without redundancy
Multiple channels / devicesno mobile live chat. the website is also not mobile friendlycompatible with most devices, device neutralboth desktop and mobileVideo sharing sites are available on almost any electronic platformnot mobile friendlymainly on desktopMultiple devices are supported.NAcompatible with most devices, device neutralSocial media sites are available on almost any electronic platformTheses types of competitors are available in different locations under different names, but they are all pretty much the same. Yes, the support area is mobile-friendly
Novice friendlyThe video tutorials are novice friendly, but they are limited. The articles in the knowledge base is not that novice friendly. Many technical terminology are being used in the category name, title and article content without much external reference or extra tip. anyone can search if they know how to use the internettutorials ranging from documantation for novices and experts. Codes are comprehensively provided in most cases.- While there are many vidoes that can be very technical, there are also many vidoes that are novice friendly.from my view, not at alltutorials contain many professional phrases. Supposing users have some sort of web hosting knowledge. USer friendly to anyone who can understand basics of internet.Depends on how people loving the guy is.novices can try to get advice, but most of the topics are more technically advancedThe standard user who would be seeking questions on a social media site is likely to find that most others are novice as well. Those who are technical in nature may also give answers as well.These locations tend to assume that because you are asking the question, you already know about the subject. Since this is not always the case, there is often times room for a high level of thechnical speech.They collaborated with many other companies to provide various kinds of tutorials for novice. The contents in the support areas are clear and step-by-step
Direct vs. hierarchical access (filters)mostly direct accessmostly direct, but you can access certain categories like images, shopping, maps, etc.hierarchial accessIt can be very hard to filter the resutls of a video search without getting too specific in search terms. direct accessmostly directDirect accessNAmostly direct, but has advanced search use when neededThere is very little if any filtering available in social mediaNANA
Variety of formatsthey have articles and videosonly one format - searchdocumantation and forum (enabling searching)They are all videosdoes not have much variety. does not have much variety. Single format, i.e. Q/ANAtwo formats - search and forums Social media allows acces to videos, articles, peer help and moreThese are all pretty much the same.Yes, they provided videos and images
Use of outside resources, internal vs. externalMost articles are writting by internal staff. they did not make the full use of external resources to help support their customers.everything is externally linkedinternal sourcesMost vidoe sharing sites only search within their own databases.mostly internalmostly uses internal resourses such as tutorials and forums.Most answers point to external sources.External resources maybe and most probably will be used by the person who is helping, since he/she knows where to llok for.most things are externally linked or external knowledge from usersMost social media sites have links and access to outside resources.Since the people helping customers in these loactions are linked to the internet, they may conduct thier own search to help the sutmoer. They provided tutorials collaborating with Lynda and Codeschool