Why Dell is being taken private again

Dell used to set the standard for computers and ecommerce, but has fallen on such hard times that the founder is taking it private again. I’m not going to comment on the products, but while they have come back a little, just have a go at the buying experience, which is woeful.

Home Page: Yes, flash is a roadblock and there is no call to action.


The Small Business page. We have to select what sort of buyer you are from the homepage, but I’ve never sat comfortably in any of the boxes.

I have no idea what any of these products are, nor did I really believe that large boxes were still being sold.

The Home Laptops page, compete with a popover. This page is much improved, with filtering to help you find the right size, speed and so forth. There is still too much going on though:

A page in the middle of the buy process for a laptop: Hard to describe how uncompelling this is, when I just want to buy a shiny computer.

The Review My Summary (whatever that means) page: The person with the headset is floating gently down the page, while the page itself cannot help trying to foist even more stuff on me.

Overall Dell has complicated the buying experience, adding a series of items over the years that probably looked like they each added revenue, but collectively subtracted from the overall propensity to buy. They need to start again, shoot for a simple unified experience, perhaps of a much simpler product line.

Apple shows how it should be done: Simple design, simple naming convention, one marketplace and no distractions:

Is your buying process a delight? Have you removed every single unnecessary step and item?



Published by Lance Wiggs


6 replies on “Why Dell is being taken private again”

  1. While I agree with everything here, the website is atrocious, it has nothing to do with why Dell has been taken private again – which is what your headline says.

    The company has certainly lost its way, but removing all the reporting and oversight required by public companies won’t necessarily solve these problems. In fact, it could make Dell even more inward-looking and out of touch with the market.

    I see the poor web site experience partly as a sign of arrogance, Dell feels it doesn’t need to work to get the customer’s dollar. And partly as a sign of what’s wrong with the entire non-Apple PC sector. It’s out of touch with user needs. That’s not a reason to go private. It’s a reason to sack the entire top management team. Which won’t happen once the company is private because Michael Dell now has more control than when the business was public.


    1. Yes I agree that it’s not the final reason Dell is going private, and that it points to the underlying issue that Dell lost it’s customer-centric approach. The question is whether Michael Dell can bring that attitude back when he has complete control again.


  2. My partner purchased an excellent notebook from Dell a few years ago but the web site then, and now, is an annoying mess. I do not understand why I have to classify myself (using their terms) into a home/small-biz/medium-biz/big-biz/enterprise-biz customer. I am sure it all makes excellent sense inside their organisation but as a prospective customer I do not want to understand DELL before I am allowed to select something.

    The reason I dislike this approach is because I worry that by selecting the wrong category I will miss out on the ideal device for me, all because it was optimised away from me by DELL’s myopic view of what my needs as a category-X user are.

    A pet peeve on all computer sale websites is how hard it can be to discover the resolution of a screen. I like high resolution displays. However, all too often the selector switches just let you choose a screen size in inches. For me that means nothing. What I want to select on is all laptops/notebooks with a resolution above 1600×900. There are 13 inch laptops out there that have 1920×1080 displays. My current laptop has a 15.4 inch display and is 1600×900 pixels, yet many of the recent 15 inch displays are only 1366×768.

    So, Sony, DELL, Lenovo, please note that I am more interested in the logical size of the display than the physical size of it.

    I would buy that Acer S7 if it wasn’t so expensive (or limited to 4GB).


    1. Another aspect of that business/consumer/big business thing is that Dell charges (or did charge) different prices for what amounts to the same hardware. OK, the brand name on the case might be different, but the insides are identical.

      It’s the computer equivalent of climbing into an airline seat and finding the person next to you paid 30% for the same flight.


      1. I have read in several places that a business should always speak directly to DELL once you have worked out what you want from their online site.. You always get a vastly better price if you speak with a human.


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