In response to feedback from the partner community, we’re looking at ways to improve the partner experience online. This is the first in a series of posts which will explore this subject. By leveraging user research and listening to what partners have to say, the hope is that we can improve key areas of MPN online, and streamline user tasks for maximum usability.

Microsoft Action Pack is one of the most popular Microsoft Partner Network benefits. With it, partners get access to the wide variety of software Microsoft makes to help build their businesses. Unfortunately, the Action Pack experience wasn’t always very good.
We recently asked a group of volunteer partners to help us test the MAP experience while we rode along as observers. We discovered that ordering MAPs was a lot harder and more confusing than it should have been. Here are the key points we learned:
  1. Too much marketing talk. There was a lot of fluffy ‘marketing’ language intended to sell visitors on MAPs, but it didn’t say much about the benefits or what it really is.
  2. “Tell me how much it costs.” Finding out how much MAPs cost wasn’t very easy.
  3. “I don’t know what to do next.” The next-step actions and links which partners needed to take weren’t very clear, and often hidden in lots of text.
  4. Circular paths. There were links which led you back to where you started, kind of like Groundhog Day.
What we’ve done is to cut back the marketing-speak—the new Action Pack pages say more with fewer words. We’ve also tried to make the prices easier to find. This isn’t perfect, due to some system dependencies, and the many geographical areas we operate in, but it’s better than it was. We’ve shortened the number of pages you see in the process and made the ‘what do I do next?’ actions clearer. And finally, we’ve tried to eliminate the circular paths that aren’t system-related.
I hope that we’ve done a lot better job of making the partner’s life easier. Take a look and see what you think.