Latest News

Over the years we have expanded the range of tests Sitemorse offers, highlighted important news and ranked top websites according to their Sitemorse result.

  • Sitemorse - helping you with WCAG2.0 across your digital presence - 11 Apr 2014

    Like many organisations who take the issue of online accessibility seriously, you are probably looking at the WCAG 2.0 standards recommended by the international web standards community.

    Example - in browser checking of WCAG2.0

    WCAG 2.0 is aimed at making online content easier to navigate and use for people with a very wide range of disabilities, but is very different from its predecessor, WCAG 1.0, which has been in use since 1999, and is likely to be considerably more complex for website owners and managers to implement.

    Sitemorse, which has in excess of a decade of experience in automated testing of websites, has been monitoring and reviewing the uptake of new standard from the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3), since its introduction. As a result we are rolling out new functionality in our Web Management Toolkit (WMTK) and Governisation products, that help organisations maintain online governance, and allow users to see in detail how their content measures up to the new standard.

    The new functionality, which will be available at no extra charge to all Sitemorse users, will not entirely replace manual testing of accessibility issues. However automated testing is able to scan entire websites on a large scale that could not be handled by even a dedicated team of testers, and in addition will assist in identifying ‘where to focus’.

    Lawrence Shaw, CEO of Sitemorse , commented: “Frequent automated reports ensure users are aware of any potential issues as they arise, and with the speed of change on so many sites, coupled with the reliance on third party integration, it has never been more necessary to thoroughly audit a site and web estate as a whole”.

    “The WCAG 2.0 standards have huge advantages for those who genuinely want to achieve online accessibility and who can put the necessary resource in place. We intend to work with our clients, understand their requirements for accessibility testing in their own digital governance and implement custom reporting that will help them on their journey, rather than just impose the findings of WCAG 2.0 automated testing on them.” he added.

    WCAG 2.0 succeeds WCAG 1.0, published in May 1999, but it does not invalidate the earlier standard. The W3C recommends new and updated content follows v2.0., while existing websites can continue to use v1.0. Sitemorse will continue for the moment to base the results of our accessibility testing on the earlier standard, although in the future will start incorporating the results of WCAG 2.0 findings in the Accessibility and Overall scores for regular audits and Sitemorse Quarterly INDEXES.

    Sitemorse users will be able to see a new look dashboard which will show their results to both the 1.0 and 2.0 standards.

    The new standard aims to be technology-neutral adjusting to the fast pace of online changes. It has four main principles, that websites should be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust, these being underpinned by a variety of techniques for compliance.

    The above example shows a website with a missing image ‘alt tag’, viewed in the Sitemorse Snapshot tool. As a result of the missing tag, the page fails a number of techniques in WCAG 2.0 . It’s one example of how a small issue can mean pages can fail the new standard for a variety of reasons.

    About WCAG 2.0
    The WCAG 2 standard has been developed by WC3, an international community led by web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and is aimed at making online content easier to navigate and use for people with a very wide range of disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Most people accept that high standards of accessibility benefit all web users, not just the disabled.

  • 2014 Q1 Global Top 250 retailers’ web benchmark : top climber H & M Hennes & Mauritz - 03 Apr 2014

    The very best retail businesses regard their online operations as equally important to their high street presence, whether or not they are selling goods across the web or just wanting to tempt customers into their physical stores.

    Top international retailers are now talking about “bricks and clicks” strategies that mean digital governance is more than ever essential to their operations – but just how well do the top retail brands online stack up when tested against user experience, governance, risk and compliance? Our latest benchmark of the sector provides an excellent indicator.

    The Sitemorse Global Top 250 retail website index is a unique benchmark of the websites of the world’s top retailers, produced exclusively for the World Retail Congress. Published four times a year, the Index uses automated software to compare the efficiency of the sites of the sector’s major retailers against key criteria.

    Swedish grocer ICA – the largest retailer in the Nordic countries - retain top spot for the fourth quarter in succession with a score of 7.1 out of a possible 10 marks, while the no-frills Polish supermarket Biedronka, owned by Portuguese corporate Groupo Jerónimo Martins SGPS retains second place with a score of 6.3/10. In third place is Swedish multinational fashion store H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, one of the most improved sites of this benchmark, having risen 105 places up the table since Q4 2013 with a score of 6.1/10.

    Spar’s UK website and Iceland Foods are the UK star performers in the top dozen sites represented in the global retail index this time, but the USA scores well, with Stater Bros, Kwik Trip and Dollar Tree Stores, where every product costs just $1, all near the top.

    Japan-based retailers have made a serious impact for the first time as four major Japanese operators earned a spot in the top 25 places - retailers from Japan had previously failed to make it into this upper echelon of the table but in the first quarter of 2014 they have enjoyed great success and pushed out some major US-based operators from this elite grouping.

    The successful Japanese contingent comprises Uny Apita, which climbed 53 places into seventh spot, Joshin Denki up 84 to 14th, Edion Corporation, up seven into 20th spot, and Beisia Group, with a rise of 28 places to 22nd overall.
    There were plenty of major climbers this time, with UK high street fashion chain Next up 104 places to 64th overall, China’s Gome Home Appliance Group moving up 140 places to 36th spot, WinCo Foods of Boise, Idaho up 156 to 39, and Family Dollar Stores up 109 to 69. Family Dollar Stores has more than 7,000 outlets in the USA and has been around since 1959.

    Fastest-performing sites this time belonged to Groupo Jerónimo Martins, Home retail Group and Dunnes Stores, with average response times for homepages of 0.02 seconds. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience.

    Family-owned Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona SA rated as having the most accessible site in the Index this time, with a total score of 8/10 for accessibility, which is now backed by law in many parts of Europe. No other site tested scored more than 6/10 in this area.

    To be held over a three day period in Paris during early October 2014, the World Retail Congress will provide a ‘one stop shop’ for retail thought leaders and senior executives to learn about all aspects of retail strategy including the physical store, store design, layout, product sourcing, customer service, eCommerce, responsive design, customer data, multi-channel, in-store digital, social media, leadership and much more, according to the WRC website.
    Sitemorse CEO Lawrence Shaw has been a member of the expert judging panel for the last four of the eight years the World Retail Congress has been held so far.

    About the Index
    The scores for the Global Top 250 retailers table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.


    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

  • New ‘08XX’ number regulations – understanding whats across digital landscape - 01 Apr 2014

    The communications regulator Ofcom has announced that charges for telephone calls to business and services are to be made simpler, with clearer pricing for all numbers starting 08, 09 and 118. Under the new plans, 080 ‘freephone’ numbers will be free from mobiles as well as landlines.

    The new proposals, scheduled to be in place by the middle of 2015, are significant and the biggest changes for UK telephone customers for more than a decade. Aimed at restoring people’s confidence in using phone services and increasing competition, they will mean businesses need to plan to make changes to existing contact numbers on websites and other forms of online marketing.

    As a result all businesses will need to closely look at their ‘digital landscape’ – comprising web, social and mobile sites -to ensure that their customer-facing marketing includes the right numbers to comply with the new rules, so the correct charges are made.

    Sitemorse is helping businesses respond to the changes by highlighting telephone number content. Website owners who have sites with large numbers of web pages and contact numbers will be able to see everything they have online to ensure it complies with the detail of the new regulation – and to make sure it remains compliant with the new rules.
    Services provided by Sitemorse can spot things human web managers can miss, and can save hours and days of the time it would take to scan large numbers of web pages manually. Working with clients, we have found that they are often unaware of more than 40 per cent of their web estate, as sites may have been set up by subsidiaries, agents, for special projects or may have been forgotten – so it’s essential that any business knows exactly what it has online and can demonstrate an ‘audit trail’.

    Sitemorse CEO Lawrence Shaw says the responsibility will be with businesses to make sure that all their communications reflect the new rules. Both published and online information will need to be carefully checked and monitored to ensure the rules are followed and that outdated advice or telephone numbers are not given to consumers.

    “This will mean a big task for businesses, which may have a digital presence of many thousands of web domains and individual web pages that will need to be compliant. Keeping track of everything you have online is more than ever essential , so it’s good that services such as those provided by Sitemorse to do the hard work of ensuring online content is both correct and monitored on an ongoing basis.” he added.

    Virtually every consumer and company in the country uses service numbers in some way. People use them to call businesses and Government agencies, make payments for services and vote on TV shows. Currently, unless they are using a BT line, callers to these numbers are not generally informed how much they will be charged. Under Ofcom’s new rules, telephone users calling service numbers will in future see the cost broken down into an ‘access charge’ to their phone company, plus a ‘service charge’ to the company or organisation they are calling. Contact us to learn more about our service on 0207 183 5588.

  • Signs of improving web governance in the government sector - 31 Mar 2014

    Clear signs of improved web governance around the new 'digital by default' strategy adopted by the government a year ago are showing up in Sitemorse's quarterly Index benchmarking of all the main central government sites.
    Many UK Government services and information sources are now on a new platform - gov.uk - that promises to be simpler, clearer and faster for its users.

    A number of government departments on the new platform are showing big improvements in our scoring, with the Natural Environment Research Council taking top place, the Serious Fraud Office rising 17 places to overall fourth position, the Low Pay Commission up 208 places to 13th, and the intelligence and security agency GCHQ up 119 places to 17th. Full data can be seen in the Index section of the Sitemorse website.

  • 2014 Q1 Central Gov. Website Benchmark: Horniman Public Museum highest climber - 28 Mar 2014

    The Government has adopted a “Digital by Default” strategy and a new platform – GOV.UK - for its online communications, and there are some clear signs of the change in the first Sitemorse benchmark of the central government sector in 2014.

    No less than 175 of the 271 sites we benchmarked have moved up our table this time, including top sites belonging to the Northern Ireland Department of Education, UK taxman HMRC, and the Central Arbitration Committee, an independent body whose role is to resolve trade union disputes. The results would seem to indicate that the general standard of web governance across the sector is on the rise.

    The new GOV.UK platform has replaced Directgov and Business Link as a hub for government activity. Currently all 24 ministerial departments, 23 non-ministerial departments and more than 340 government agencies and public bodies use Gov.uk, with the rest are gradually being merged into it.

    Taking the lead this time in our Index is the site of the Northern Ireland Department of Education, based in Londonderry and a part of the NI Direct web hub. With a score of 7.1 of a possible ten marks, the Department of Education site rises 17 places in the table since the previous benchmark in Q4 2013.

    H M Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which headed our Central Government Index for two quarters last year, rises four spots in the table this time to second position with an overall score of 6.9/10.

    In third place this time is the website of the Central Arbitration Committee, a permanent independent body with statutory powers whose role is to resolve trade union and collective bargaining disputes. The CAC site drops down one place and scores 6. 7/10.

    • Biggest climbers up the table this time include Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Trust, up 99 places to 43rd overall, the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, which rises 106 places to 7th overall, 'Bona Vacantia’, the office of the treasury solicitor, up 113 places to 22nd, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, also up 113 to 106th, and top riser the UK Border Agency, up 209 places to 28th overall.

    Inside the top twenty sites the Money Advice Service rises 18 places to take fourth position, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee is at sixth having risen 20 places, and there are improvements for the government intelligence and security organisation GCHQ, the Pensions Regulator, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Council for Science and Technology.

    • Fast-loading web pages are important, so readers of our Index might be interested to see the average response time we recorded when testing each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. The Government Art Collection and the Civil Aviation Authority are the top performers here, with average response times just 0.01 seconds for a tested page to load.
    • Accessibility, now backed by law, remains a key criterion for any site. HMRC maintains the highest score here, with 9 out of a possible ten marks. Eight government sites including the Food Standards Agency and the UK Intellectual Property Office score 8/10, a slight improvement on last quarter, when only seven sites achieved this score.

    About the Index
    The scores for the Central Government table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

  • 2014 Q1 Global Life Sciences Web Benchmark: The life science ‘digital landscape’ - 20 Mar 2014

    The Sitemorse quarterly web benchmarks of the global life science sector are always a good indicator of the companies leading the field, because any organisation’s digital communications speak volumes about the way it is managed.

    The digital landscape these days involves not just websites but also mobile and social technologies, and a good online experience is essential to make sure users find what they need and want to return. Our testing is a key indicator that a site is error-free and working well across a number of vital areas.

    Our Q1 2014 Global Life Science Index ranks US-based Idenix Pharmaceuticals as the most efficient site in the sector. With a total score of 8.3 of a possible 10 marks overall, Idenix maintains the scoring that has kept it at the top of this index now for the third quarter on the run.

    Idenix is involved in the discovery and development of drugs for the treatment of human viral and other life-threatening infectious diseases, so helping lead the fight against Hepatitis. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Its clinical development operations and drug discovery operations are conducted both in the USA and the company’s European laboratories in Montpellier, France.

    In second position in the ranking is a new site from German pharma company Cytogen, which produces testing kits for a variety of diseases. Cytogen’s site scored an impressive 8.2/10 in our tests.

    And in third place, dropping one position from our Q4 Index of 2013 is the site of ProStrakan Group PLC, which is owned by Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd (KHK) of Japan and is one of Europe’s fastest growing specialty pharmaceutical companies, producing among other products drugs for managing pain and nausea. The site scored a whisker under 8/10.

    Ensuring stakeholders can get the information they need and at the same time keeping the highest standards and exceeding compliance has to be the target for anyone taking the web seriously, so to score eight or above in the Sitemorse website Index rating really demonstrates that a company is leading the field. Sitemorse has been benchmarking and rating the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors for more than a decade, using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).


    • The best-known names in global life sciences do not always have the most efficient sites according to our testing. But over the last few quarters we have noted improvements in the websites of a number of the larger companies. Merck and Co.UK has risen 90 places in the table to 96th overall, while Novartis UK is up 125 to overall 33rd position. Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi UK and Astrazeneca’s UK sites also improved.

    Top overall risers this time are Japan's Chugai – Pharma, which rises 132 to 42nd overall, US-based Endo Pharmaceuticals, up 138 to 111th, Japan's Mochida rises 146 to 67th place and top climber Advaxis, which rises 167 places in the Index to 17th overall. Advaxis, based in Princeton, New Jersey USA, is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing the next generation of immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases.
    Fast-loading web pages are important, so we test the average response time for each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. Otsuka Pharmaceuticals Europe, Merz UK and Perrigo UK are top performers, with average response times in Otsuka’s case just 0.01 seconds on average for a tested page to load.

    • Accessibility, backed by law, remains a key criterion for any website. Highest scorers in this sector are Canadian R&D company Apotex, and Eisai of Japan, who have both maintained a score of 8/10 for the last two quarters. Otsuka Pharmaceuticals Europe scored 7/10.
    About the Index

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

  • Knowing instantly if your online content changes including the unexpected - 18 Mar 2014

    Any business operating online runs the risk of something going wrong with content - and when it does happen it's important the right people get to know quickly they may need to act.

    Whether an unseen technical error or unwanted action by hackers, sudden changes to content can be spotted early if monitored by the web governance service provided by Sitemorse, which continually reviews and watches for anomalies and recent changes.

    Should prices of items across categories or groups of products, for example, change significantly there can be an immediate alert for digital content or brand managers - including warning text messages for urgent problems that happen outside normal hours.

    Here are some real-world examples that happened recently where teams were caught out, leaving their organisations vulnerable to potential fraud, damaged customer relations and negative publicity.

    - An unexpected technical glitch or error
    A UK retailer suffered a technical glitch in January that reduced the price of everything on the website to just £34.99 - including power tools and 'big ticket' items such as ride-on mowers with normal price tags in the thousands, according to national newspaper reports.

    - An attack by external hackers
    Hackers who attacked the website of the leading body for postgraduate education in the UK, stealing user passwords and publishing them online have allegedly been able to get back into the site and have defaced it for a second time, according to media reports.

    The website of the UK Council for Graduate Education joins that of Birmingham and Mole Valley councils for the high-profile attack, which saw more than 600 user passwords uploaded to the web.

    A hacker using the alias smitt3nz claimed responsibility for the original attack, which prompted an online apology from the UK Council for Graduate Education. No financial details were leaked, but users were asked to re-register.

  • 2014 Q1 Local Government Website Benchmark Cornwall Council no1. - 14 Mar 2014

    A high standard of web governance is important for the digital presence of every organisation, but for the huge variety of audiences served by local authority sites, it’s crucial.

    Councils in the UK are taking their online sites more and more seriously, as the many millions of users that rely on their services are not slow in getting in touch, should they be unable to get access to vital services.

    That’s why the latest Sitemorse Index benchmark of local authority sites is an important measure of how the public sector digital landscape is improving.

    This quarter there are some very big moves up the rankings, with the Knowsley and States of Jersey sites zooming more than 100 places each into the top five ranked sites.

    Heading the Index is Cornwall Council, which has moved five places up the index with a good overall score of 8.8 out of ten possible marks. The council’s web team have recently improved the navigation to the site and say it is under constant review, developing and improving all the time, with new features to make it easier for users to find the information they are looking for. According to the council, around 400,000 people visit the site each month, so the work put in to ensure the site is fully operational is appreciated by large numbers of its users.

    In second place is the site of Rhondda Cynon Taf, largest council in Wales following the merger of three former Mid-Glamorgan districts in 1996. With a population of nearly a quarter of a million people and nearly 100,000 households, the council’s website has a big job to do, and we rated it a score of 8.8/10, very slightly down on the last quarter of 2013.

    It’s been a meteoric rise this time for Knowsley Council site on Merseyside, with a third-place ranking thanks to a score of 8.2/10 and a move up the table of no less than 140 places. Knowsley has recently added online services allowing residents to view council tax and benefits information through a new secure layer of the site.

    Slough Borough Council moves up three places into fourth position this time, and States of Jersey is another big riser, moving up 130 places to take fifth position. Jersey residents can use the site to book housing repairs and driving tests, find jobs and access planning registers and library services.

    Other big upward movers this time include Fermanagh (up 190), Wakefield (+204), Cambridge (+217), Horsham (+236) and biggest riser Milton Keynes (+305 places to 97th overall).


    Why an accessible website is important
    The local government sector scores higher than any other audited by Sitemorse in the area of accessibility, with many councils prioritising disabled access to council services for their sites. No less than 14 authorities scored a very creditable 9 out of 10 in this area and 30 councils scored 8/10, one more than in our Q4 2013 Index. Top accessibility performers were Cornwall, Torbay, Lewes, Broxtowe, Tower Hamlets, Vale of Glamorgan, Salford, Woking, Derbyshire, Stroud, South Oxfordshire, Wolverhampton, Wycombe, and Wigan.

    Sitemorse commented: The very best websites provide an excellent customer experience to ensure their visitors find just what they are looking for and want to return. Behind the scenes they also have to be compliant with latest web standards and fast-moving legislation, free from links to online risks like malware and ‘phishing’ sites and they should be built in a way to enhance search engine optimisation, to ensure potential customers find them. This applies just as much to the public sector as to the private, and we are always impressed by the effort local authorities in the UK put into improving the quality of their websites, a vital link with the communities they serve.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Modernisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any web presence, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal ‘company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

  • 2014 Q1 FTSE All Share Website Benchmark: Land Securities, WPP online leaders - 12 Mar 2014

    Major upward movements have seen Land Securities and communications giant WPP top our Q1 online benchmark of the FTSE All companies in 2014, with high scores showing a clear lead in online governance.

    With digital performance being increasingly seen as a key measure of overall governance across any organisation, online capability and Index ranking could soon potentially be as important as that of the ratings agencies, with even the largest corporations needing to ensure they can successfully manage brand and reputation online, in a constantly- changing environment.

    With 70 years of history, Land Securities is now the largest commercial property company in the UK, and with a significant London property portfolio can justifiably claim to be reshaping one of the world’s great cities. We scored the Land Securities online presence at just over 9.4 of a possible ten marks, as near a perfect score as ever achieved, and the site moves 59 places up our table to take the top spot.

    WPP, led by the charismatic Sir Martin Sorrell is a world leader in marketing communications and the largest advertising agency in the world, employing more than 160,000 people. Founded in 1971 as a manufacturer of wire shopping baskets, the company now owns some of the best-known marketing and PR agencies. WPP PLC’s site rises 49 places in our ranking with an overall score of just under 9/10. The remainder of our top 5 rated companies includes independent pub retailing business Marston’s, newsagent WH Smith, and the North-West water company, United Utilities.

    A new site from spirits specialist Stock Spirits has entered the ranking in seventh place. The group's principal markets are Poland, the Czech Republic and Italy, and it aims to be the leading spirits producer in Central and Eastern Europe. Global investment managers Baillie Gifford trust are in tenth place after a rise of 72 places up the table.

    Our top digital leaders includes some well-known names – housebuilders Bellway , iconic entertainment name Rank Group, Premier Oil PLC, a growing FTSE 250 oil and gas exploration and production company, and electronics manufacturer Pace PLC, supplying broadcast and broadband industries maintaining 19th position overall.

    • The Sitemorse FTSE All Share Web Benchmark Index, including more than 500 UK top company sites is a particularly important audit, covering as it does the aggregation of the FTSE 100 Index, FTSE 250 Index and FTSE SmallCap Index. The FTSE All Share comprises around half of the companies traded on the London Stock Exchange. Our automated checks, covering quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation, provide a useful marker for which of the leading companies in this sector is succeeding online.

    There were some big upward movements this Index from engineering consultants AMEC PLC (up245), asset investors GCP Infrastructure Investments Limited (+249 places to 57th overall), life and pensions books manager Chesnara PLC (+267), independent investment manager Invesco Income Growth Trust PLC (+352) and top riser, international energy giant Bg Group PLC (rising 388places to overall 20th).
    • Fast-loading web pages are important, so our rankings include the average response time we recorded when testing each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. Insurers Admiral Group, Rentokil Initial Whitbread PLC and Royal Mail are among the top performers here, with average response times just 0.01 seconds on average for a tested page to load.
    • Accessibility, backed by law, remains a key criterion for any website. Land Securities, WPP, Marston’s and Tobacco manufacturer BAT are the top performers here, all with nine of a possible ten marks. Imperial Tobacco Group ,Bellway and Stock Spirits Group PLC scored 8/10.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for site managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any site, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your digital landscape.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' site testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.


    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

    @landsecurities
    @WPP

  • 2014 Q1 UK Retail Web Benchmark – Bathstore most improved, up 309 places - 03 Mar 2014

    The leaders in the retail sector understand that an effective online presence is now vital for a business to succeed, and over the years Sitemorse has regularly looked at the sector we have come to the conclusion that businesses with an effective digital landscape tend to do well in the marketplace.

    That’s why our Q1 UK Retail 500 Index benchmark is an important marker of which retail businesses are the digital leaders, with a high standard of web governance that means users of their sites get a great online experience.

    Retaining top place in the Index, with an excellent score of 9.3 of a possible ten marks is the London-based high-fashion evening wear manufacturer Anoushka G. It’s the third consecutive quarter the company has been at the top of our Index, and it has not been outside the top three for four years.

    Moving up 81 places to third position this time is the Yorkshire-based discount clothing company W Boyes, which has stores all over the East of England. Womenswear specialist Jarrold & Sons, which operates from a historic mill in Norwich, rises 99 places to 8th overall.

    But seven out of the top ten performers come from the homeware sector. Lancashire-based Pownall Carpets, which has sold floor coverings for more than half a century, retains second position with an impressive 8.1/10 overall. K D Beds of Harrogate hangs on to fourth place with 7.5/10.

    Top riser, Bathstore has had a meteoric rise of 309 places to get to fifth position overall, with Sofa Workshop and Chester’s Beds Direct in sixth and seventh positions. Fitted bedroom specialist Hammonds, which manufactures all of its furniture in Leicestershire, shoots 215 places up the Index to 9th place overall, and finishing up the top ten performers is a new website from Rapid Hardware, which operates from a megastore next door to the Radio City tower in Liverpool.

    The testing of the 500 sites is undertaken by Sitemorse using automated software that, page-by-page, reads the first 125 pages of each retailer’s sites to generate a ranked table based on checks to Quality, User Experience, Accessibility, Performance and SEO capability of each.

    Other impressive gainers are toy outlet The Bear Factory, up 190 places to 42nd overall, leading clothing outfit Next, which rises 216 places to 161st position, and Eastern wood furniture specialist Lombok, which is up 254 places to 108th overall.

    Some well-known brands are moving up the Index, with DFS Furniture rising 154, toymakers Corgi and iconic rail modeller Hornby are up 71 and 40 respectively, and we have recorded rises for Asda supermarkets, Debenhams, Dobbies Garden Centres, French Connection, Games Workshop, Gieves & Hawkes, Greggs, IKEA, Jack Wills, Jacques Vert, Levis, Louis Vuitton, Screwfix, Tesco and Waitrose, among others.

    Anoushka G is the top performer in the important area of accessibility, with a 9/10 score, significantly ahead of the rest of the table. Plus size fashion retailer Elvi and specialist legal bookseller Hammicks both scored 7/10 in this area.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

  • 2014 Q1 Consumer Finance Website Benchmark – Intelligent Finance (IF) top - 27 Feb 2014

    We are all gradually getting used to interfacing with our banking services online via PCs and mobile devices, rather than popping down to the High Street to the local branch, and of course we expect our online experience to be a good one, every time.

    That’s why the latest Sitemorse Index of the online presence of more than 200 UK top consumer finance companies is helpful. Our automated checks, covering quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation, provide a key marker for leading companies in the consumer finance sector.

    Topping our list of high performing sites for first quarter of 2014, with 7.6 out of a possible ten marks, is Edinburgh-based Intelligent Finance (IF). A division of the Bank of Scotland, IF is no stranger to the top of the Sitemorse chart, taking first place in published Indexes in 2009, 2010 and 2011, so it’s nice to see them back on top after a rise of five places from our last benchmark in November.

    Second spot this time is retained by private banker Brown Shipley, which offers a UK-wide wealth management service aimed at both UK citizens and international investors. Scoring 7.5/10 overall the bank is another recent high performer, but has moved rapidly up the ranks since 2010, when it was rated 41st in the Index.

    Third place this time goes to Welcome Finance, which operates from Batley, West Yorkshire with a score of 7.5/10, rising just one place in the Index and coming in just a whisker behind Brown Shipley. The highest climber this time is HSBC Private Bank which joins the top 20 having climbed nearly 200 places.

    Index ranking is undertaken by Sitemorse using automated software that, page-by-page, reads the first 125 pages of each site to generate a table based on checks to the quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation capability of each.

    Four new sites join the ranking this time, Standard Chartered Bank UK which comes in at 60th place, JCB Card Europe (placed in 71st position), Ireland’s EBS Building Society, rated 103rd, and DNB Norbank, Denmark’s leading bank , placed 173rd.

    Our biggest improvers this time are the Building Societies Association (up 77 places to 67th overall), Rothschild & Sons (rising 80places to 66th), Debt Free Direct Group (+98 to 51st overall), The Bank of China UK (rising 109 places to 75th) and top riser HSBC Private Bank (rising 183 to 20th overall)


    The importance of an accessible website

    Around 15% of European citizens of working age, or 80 million people, have a disability or some form of functional limitation. Both that real number and the percentage will grow as the European population continues to age. Websites that can’t be navigated by disabled users, apart from being illegal, may discriminate against them and website accessibility is backed by law.

    Julian Hodge Bank’s website and that of the Leeds Building Society score highest in this sector on accessibility, scoring 9/10, with Intelligent Finance scoring 8/10.

    It’s important that websites respond quickly, and we think a response time longer than 0.75 seconds for a web page can have a negative effect on user experience. Fastest performers in our Index were Numis Securities, The One Account, the European Bank, RBS and Yorkshire Bank, with the first three responding in 0.01 seconds, on average.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any web presence, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you.

    They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal ‘company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

  • Helping UK local authorities to be “Better Connected” - 12 years on... - 20 Feb 2014

    It’s now twelve years since Sitemorse began working with Socitm, the organisation for IT professionals working in local government, an important partnership that feeds key data into Socitm's 'Better Connected' annual survey of all UK council websites.

    The purpose of Better Connected is to identify good practice in the development of local authority websites based on extensive evidence-based research.

    “There’s no question that Socitm's influence over the last one and a half decades has seen a general improvement in the websites of local government” commented Sitemorse CEO, Lawrence Shaw. “The input from Sitemorse helps the councils to improve their own performance and to see how they compare to their peers in the crucial area of web governance.”

    The latest report – available to subscribers in the local government sector in the first week of March - with be Socitm’s 16th annual survey, and a team of reviewers have carried out a structured survey with 224 questions for local authority websites, followed by four shorter surveys on specific topics.

    This research has been supplemented by seven additional sets of data, one of which is detailed technical data on the performance of each local authority site supplied by Sitemorse.

    “Our survey is now in its sixteenth year and has been supported by Sitemorse for twelve of those years. In the time we have been working with them, Sitemorse has become a very recognised provider of 'web confidence', and it's great to be supported by their unique capability" Martin Greenwood, Insight Programme Manager of Socitm told us.

    “It’s important if you are running a site to keep your eye on the ball when it comes to technical quality, because it definitely have a big effect on the user experience of the site” he added.

    This year the Better Connected survey will, among other criteria, assess the experience of mobile users against desktop users for each council involved in the testing.
    The latest Sitemorse Index of the UK local government sector will be published on 6 March. Our benchmark survey will look at the performance of more than 400 local authority websites across key criteria including function, code quality, and accessibility.

  • 2014 Q1 Swiss Banks Digital Benchmark – A new face at the top - 18 Feb 2014

    As internet-based banking gradually replaces trips to the High Street, we all rely on online access to bank accounts more and more. Having a website that works well and provides a great user experience is essential to the reputation of any financial organisation, and none more than the Swiss banking sector.

    Maintaining an efficient website requires methodical web governance, as the banks leading our first-quarter 2014 Index benchmark prove. Sitemorse has been ranking the websites of the banking sector in Switzerland for several years, and our latest Index reviews almost 200 banking websites to measure how well they work.

    The INDEX by Sitemorse is created using automated software that reads the first 125 pages of each site to generate a ranked table based on checks to the quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation capability of each.

    The Zurich-based regional ZLB Zürcher Landbank has risen no less than 50 places in our table to take top spot. A pillar of the local economy for the last 150 years, the bank proudly boats that it finances more than 90 per cent of local properties. The bank’s website has ranked in more than 20 recent Sitemorse benchmarks but this time has showed a marked improvement to reach top position, with an overall score of 8.1 of a possible ten marks.

    Banque Bénédict Hentsch & Cie SA, a private bank founded in Geneva less than a decade ago but boasting a long tradition in wealth management, was pipped to the post to first place this time after a short run at the top of our table. The bank scored 7.9/10 in our testing this time.

    Keeping its spot at third place this time is Zurich-based J. Safra Sarasin Holdings. Operating worldwide in 30 locations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, providing a full range of private banking and asset management services, the company’s website also retained its 7.6/10 score.

    Our biggest improvers this time are the websites WIR Bank (rising 83 places to 24th overall), Schaffhauser Kantonalbank (up 103 places to 62nd), Bank CIC (Schweiz) AG (rising 131 to overall 56th place), Pictet et Cie (up 160 to 21st overall) and top riser HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA (up 161 places to 33rd overall)

    The importance of an accessible website

    Around 15% of European citizens of working age, or 80 million people, have a disability or some form of functional limitation. Both that real number and the percentage will grow as the European population continues to age. Today we live much of our life online and websites are critically important to our daily life.

    Websites that can’t be navigated by disabled users, apart from being illegal, may discriminate against users.

    J. Safra Sarasin Holdings and Gonet & Cie are the highest scorers in this sector on accessibility, both with 8/10, and Bank-now AG, Banca del Sempione, NPB Neue Privat Bank AG, and E. Gutzwiller & Cie. Banquiers all scored 7/10.

    About the Swiss Banking sector
    Banks and financial institutions play a key role in the Swiss economy. The Swiss franc is among the world’s most stable currencies. The Swiss capital market is one of the most important in the world and a major force in the global financial market. The Swiss financial sector employs well over 200,000 people, around six per cent of the entire Swiss workforce. In addition, the major Swiss banks employ several thousand staff overseas.
    The Swiss are world leaders in offshore private banking, managing more than a quarter of all private offshore funds. Private banking is a centuries-long tradition in Switzerland, with the first recorded private bank dating back to the 17th century.
    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any web presence, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal ‘company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

  • 2014 Q1 Police website benchmark: Total Improvement for Merseyside site. - 21 Jan 2014

    The fight against crime has moved online, with police forces using their websites to interact with local communities to help prevent criminal activity and to report crime as it happens.

    A successful police site needs to be fully functional, with nothing broken or missing on the page, meet legal requirements such as accessibility, perform well and needs to ensure users have a positive experience so they want to return.

    That’s why the Sitemorse Q1 2014 Index ranking just under 50 UK police force websites is important, spotlighting the forces that are currently leading the field with the best-working websites in the sector.

    Sitemorse reviews the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors, and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed results for a decade. The full results from this and other recent surveys can be seen on our website, www.sitemorse.com.

    Six or seven years ago the Merseyside Police site was just three from the bottom of our rankings, with a very poor rating – but huge strides now see the force at the very top of our table for the first time, following a consistent move up the top five placings in 2013.

    With an area of 647 square kilometres and a population of 1.5 million, Merseyside Police has more than 4,500 officers and an annual budget of more than £300m, making it one of the larger UK forces. The Merseyside website scored 6.5 of a possible ten marks but the three top sites, including Police Scotland and the North Wales Police, were all very close in the ranking.

    The newly-formed Police Scotland force drops from first to second place, still an amazing achievement for a police authority that was only formed in April 2013. Police Scotland merged several authorities and is responsible for policing across the length and breadth of Scotland, some 28,168 square miles, making it the second largest force in the UK after the Metropolitan Police.

    Based in Colwyn Bay on the North Wales Coast, the North Wales Police has been a consistent high-flyer in the Sitemorse ranking since 2011 and rises one place in this latest Index. With more than 2,500 staff, the authority boats that North Wales is one of the safest places to live in the UK.

    Top risers this time include Gloucestershire Constabulary (up seven places to 16th overall), West Midlands Police (rising eight places to 27th), City of London Police (up 10 to 10th overall), Surrey Police (+11 to 17th) and biggest riser the Serious Organised Crime Agency (+20to seventh overall).

    The 'digital inclusion' of disabled people is important for many of the sectors we survey, as well as being backed by the force of the law. If someone with a disability, such as sight loss, can't access the information on a website then it could be seen as discrimination. Highest scorers for accessibility in this latest Index, rated 9/10, were the Thames Valley and Gwent forces. Bedfordshire and North Wales each once again scored a creditable 8/10.

    Fastest page load times this time were recorded for the Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk forces. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience, but we recorded speeds of 0.02 seconds for Essex and Suffolk.

    About the Index
    The scores for the Police Index table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you.

    They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.


    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

  • 2013 Q4 Global Top 250 retailers’ website benchmark: Canada and US continue rising - 09 Jan 2014

    A good online performance is more than ever the hallmark of a well-run business, and retailers are increasingly finding that digital governance is as important as a well-run high street presence.

    A good “bricks and clicks” strategy is essential , whether or not retailers are selling online or just using their digital presence to help persuade potential customers to enter their stores.

    The Sitemorse Global Top 250 retail website index is a unique benchmark of the websites of the world’s top retailers, produced exclusively for the World Retail Congress.

    To be held over a three day period this year in Paris during early October, the World Retail Congress will provide the critical context, new ideas and challenging thinking for senior retailers to understand the "new retailing" that is about to emerge from the global recession.

    All the biggest climbers in our Q4 rankings are from the USA and Canada, following an earlier trend that saw US-based retailers account for an impressive eight of the top 20 places in the table of the Top 250 global websites in Q3.

    However, the top three performing websites this time are firmly European-based. Nordic grocer ICA retain its top spot with an improved score of 8 out of a possible 10 marks, well ahead of Dutch merchant C&A Europe, retaining second spot with a score of 6.7/10. In third place is the no-frills Polish supermarket Biedronka, owned by Portuguese corporate group Jerónimo Martins SGPS, with a score of 6.3/10.

    The UK is represented in the top ten performers by Associated British Foods/Primark and Spar’s UK website, but it’s the Canadians and Americans who are the real story this time, with stationers Staples up 83 places to 117th.
    Rona Inc. a Canadian hardware, home improvement and gardening products specialist, rockets from 111th to 23rd place, US-based Liberty Media Corporation, which owns interests in a broad range of media, communications and entertainment businesses, is up from 154th to 28th, and Metro Inc, a food retailer operating in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario rises to 17th from 159th in Q3.

    Germany’s Otto Group, traditionally the world's largest mail order retailer and currently one of the biggest e-commerce companies operating in more than 20 countries, is the highest climber of this Index, moving from near the bottom to the top of our table in just one quarter. The Otto group website has moved up from 223rd to 11th place in our overall ranking.

    The most accessible website in our Retail 250 testing – important as many disabled or partly-disabled people use assistive technology to navigate websites – is that of the Spanish-based supermarket group Mercadona SA, which scores 8/10. Behind them is the Blockbuster video website with 7/10.

    Although Sitemorse tested the top 250 global retailers, the final table contains only 220 names because companies were excluded from the process if they used assistive technology such as JavaScript, which breaks the general “rules of accessibility” of internet sites, according to Sitemorse.
    Sitemorse CEO Lawrence Shaw has been a member of the expert judging panel for the 2013 World Retail Awards (#worldretail), the retail industry's most prestigious accolade, for the last four years.

    Now in its eighth year, the World Retail Awards will bring together a top-ranking group of board-level specialists to analyse entries. An extensive range of Sitemorse tests will once again be used as part of the review process for entrant company websites to ensure they meet high standards.

    About the Index
    The scores for the Global Top 250 retailers table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.


    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

  • 2013 Q4 Central Government Website Benchmark: All Change at the Top - 06 Jan 2014

    Clear signs of improved web governance around the new digital by default strategy adopted by the government a year ago are showing up in Sitemorse’s quarterly benchmarking of all the main central government sites.

    Many UK Government services and information sources are now on a new platform – gov.uk - that promises to be simpler, clearer and faster for its users.

    A number of government departments on the new platform are showing big improvements in our scoring, with the Natural Environment Research Council taking top place, the Serious Fraud Office rising 17 places to overall fourth position, the Low Pay Commission up 208 places to 13th, and the intelligence and security agency GCHQ (@GCHQ_UK) up 119 places to 17th.

    The highest rated site belongs to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences.

    NERC coordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. Their site scored a total of 7.3 in our testing and they moved one place up to take the top spot.

    Taking second place is the website of the Central Arbitration Committee, a permanent independent body with statutory powers whose role is to resolve trade union and collective bargaining disputes. The CAC site moves up three places and scores just over 7/10.

    In third position in our rankings is the NI Direct site, a hub for central and local government in Northern Ireland, a rise of one place since the Q3 Index.

    The new Gov.uk platform has replaced Directgov and Business Link as a hub for government activity. Currently all the ministerial departments and more than 300 government agencies and public bodies use Gov.uk, and the rest are gradually being merged into it.

    - Biggest climbers up the table this time include the National Museum of Science and Industry (rising 115 places to 129th overall), GCHQ (+119 places to 17th), the Olympic Delivery Authority (+119 to 88th place overall),Natural Resources Wales (+178 to 24th place overall), and the Low Pay Commission (+218 places to 13th overall)

    Also doing well are the Northern Ireland Assembly and Scottish National Party, which in 19th and 20th place have made significant moves up the Sitemorse rankings. The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management moves up 115 places to 68th, just two places below the Civil Nuclear Police Authority, up 60 places to 66th overall.

    - Fast-loading web pages are important, so readers of our Index might be interested to see the average response time we recorded when testing each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. The Government Art Collection, the Valuation Office Agency, Civil Aviation Authority, Legal Services Commission and the Judicial Appointments Commission make up the top five here, with average response times just 0.01 seconds on average for a tested page to load.

    - Accessibility, backed by law, remains a key criterion for any website. HMRC maintains the highest score here, with 9 out of a possible ten marks. Seven government websites including NERC, the Food Standards Agency and the UK Intellectual Property Office score 8/10.

    About the Index
    The scores for the Central Government table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

  • 2013 Q4 Global Life Sciences Website Benchmark: who's demonstrating digital 'governance' - 19 Dec 2013

    An organisation’s digital communications say many things about how efficiently it is run – so the Sitemorse quarterly web benchmarks of the global life science sector can help spot the companies leading the field.

    Websites, mobile and social are the way most people find out about companies, so it’s essential they work efficiently to give users a good experience. Our testing is a key indicator that a site is error-free and working well.

    Our Q4 2013 Global Life Science Index rates the most efficient sites in the sector as those of Idenix Pharmaceuticals based in Massachusetts in the USA, Prostrakan, UK subsidiary of Japan’s Kyowa Kirin pharmaceutical company, and Japan’s Kyorin Pharmaceuticals Group, which has been trading for the last 90 years.

    Ensuring stakeholders can get the information they need and at the same time keeping the highest standards and exceeding compliance has to be the target for anyone taking the web seriously, so to score eight or above in the Sitemorse website Index rating really demonstrates that a company is leading the field.

    Top place for the second quarter in succession goes to Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. which is involved in the discovery and development of drugs for the treatment of human viral and other infectious diseases.

    Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA, Its clinical development operations and drug discovery operations are conducted in the USA and the company’s European laboratories in Montpellier, France. We scored the Idenix site 8.3/10 overall, a slight improvement over last quarter’s Index score.

    Just behind Idenix in second place this time with a score of 7.9 in our automated testing is the site of ProStrakan Group PLC, which is owned by Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd (KHK) of Japan and is one of Europe’s fastest growing specialty pharmaceutical companies. Prostrakan’s site retains second place for the second successive quarter and maintains its score.

    Third-placed Kyorin Pharmaceuticals Group is based in Tokyo and was formed in 1923. These days it manufactures and sells prescription medicines, offering oral antibacterial agents, agents for gastritis and gastric ulcer; and vitamin D3 capsules among others.

    Taking fourth and fifth place in this quarter’s Index are the sites of Mylan UK, a leading developer and supplier of generic medicines and Hertfordshire-based Biotecnol, which is developing the next generation of antibody-based therapeutics for the treatment of diseases in a vast number of therapeutic areas based on its proprietary Tribody™ technology.

    Sitemorse has been benchmarking and rating the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors for a decade. The full results from this and other recent surveys can be seen on our website.

    • The best-known names in global life sciences do not always have the best websites, in our experience. But this time we have noted improvements in the websites of a number of the larger companies. Bayer Schering Pharma has risen 45 places in the Index to 29th, while Roche rises 16 places to 49th overall, their second significant rise this year. Diabetes specialist Novo Nordisk is up 67 places to 4th position, Shire rises 52 to 65th, and AstraZeneca, which dropped back last quarter, recovers 12 places to 72th overall.
    Top risers this time are Biogen Idec UK (+84), QLT (+93), Galderma (+110), Biogen Idec (+113) and top climber, Intas Biopharmaceuticals (+132 places to 96th overall)
    Fast-loading web pages are important, so we test the average response time for each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. Mylan UK, Servier UK, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals Europe, Merz UK and Ipsen are in the top five here, with average response times in Otsuka’s case just 0.01 seconds on average for a tested page to load.
    • Accessibility, backed by law, remains a key criterion for any website. Highest scorers in this sector are Canadian R&D company Apotex, and Eisai of Japan, both rated as 8/10 in our tests
    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

  • 2013 Q4 FTSE All Share Website Benchmark: The key measure of digital governance - 13 Dec 2013

    Leading independent brewer and pub chain Marston’s has once again taken a commanding lead in our fourth benchmark of the FTSE All Share company websites in 2013, showing a clear lead in online governance.

    With digital performance being increasingly seen as a key measure of overall governance across any organisation, online capability and Index ranking could soon potentially be as important as that of the ratings agencies, with even the largest corporations needing to ensure they can successfully manage brand and reputation online, in a constantly- changing environment.

    Wolverhampton-based Marston’s scored just slightly less than it did in our previous Index, 9.6 of a possible ten marks, plus a top score of 10/10 for accessibility, but still well ahead of nearest rivals Personal Assets Trust PLC and Cairn Energy, with newsagents WH Smith and wealth management specialists St.James Place making up the rest of the top five.

    The achievement – Marston’s have topped our Index for a staggering nine of the last ten quarters -will be another feather in the cap for the company, which announced increased profits and a 5% dividend increase at its results announcement in November. Marston’s employs 12,000 people in the UK and so far this year has served more than 30 million meals at its 2,000 pubs in England and Wales.

    Edinburgh-based Personal Assets Trust has risen 50 places this time, while St.James Place, which boasts £41.8bn of client funds under management, has risen 147 places to overall fifth position.

    • Our FTSE All Share index features some of the best-known companies traded on the London Stock Exchange, and many of the 500 or so compared are household names. Details of how we rated them can be found in the Index section of the Sitemorse website.

    Our top 20 digital leaders includes some well-known names – Carpetright PLC in sixth place, Glencore Xstrata, one of the world’s largest global diversified natural resource companies and one of the biggest companies within the FTSE 100 Index, moves up 50 places to 12th position, Premier Oil PLC, a growing FTSE 250 oil and gas exploration and production company, is 7th overall, and entering the top 20 this time is electronics company Pace PLC, supplying the broadcast and broadband industries. Pace moves 13 places up the Sitemorse table to take 19th position overall.

    • The Sitemorse FTSE All Share Web Benchmark Index, including more than 500 UK top company websites is a particularly important audit, covering as it does the aggregation of the FTSE 100 Index, FTSE 250 Index and FTSE SmallCap Index. The FTSE All Share comprises around half of the companies traded on the London Stock Exchange. Our automated checks, covering quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation, provide a useful marker for which of the leading companies in this sector is succeeding online.

    Some stellar performances this time from our overall top risers, Taylor Wimpey PLC (+211). Henry Boot (+216), Cls holdings (+224), Porvair PLC (+266), and Synergy Health PLC (+299).

    • Fast-loading web pages are important, so readers of our Index might be interested to see the average response time we recorded when testing each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. Rentokil Initial and car insurers Admiral Group are in the top five here, with average response times just 0.01 seconds on average for a tested page to load.

    • Accessibility, backed by law, remains a key criterion for any website. Full marks - literally - for Marston’s here, with ten out of a possible ten marks. Tobacco manufacturer BAT scored 9/10, while PR giants WPP, Imperial Tobacco Group and housebuilder Bellway are rated at 8/10.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.


    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

  • Updated Sitemorse offering gets to the heart of digital governance - 09 Dec 2013

    Sitemorse is about to roll out an important upgrade to its Web Management Toolkit (WMTK) service that will allow users to get right to the heart of digital governance.

    WMTK now delivers the next Generation of automation, finding and offering a focus on the key issues that could dilute your brand (UX – User Experience), undermine your search ranking (SEO) or perhaps be exposing you to unnecessary risk (GRC – Governance Risk and Compliance).

    Digital Governance example screenshot

    The update next week to the Priority Fix List helps ensure there is clarity across the 3 key areas of Digital Governance, allowing you to make the most of available resource, ensuring visitors to your mobile, web or social sites have the best possible experience - where search is key, and nothing is hampering your Google rankings.

    The upgrade offers in a nutshell a further level of automation, reading the detail of the audit results and considering and prioritising key issues that can dilute a brand, undermine SEO and / or expose your organisation to unnecessary risk across web, mobile and social pages and PDF documents.

    Findings are broken down into three key areas:

    • UX (User experience)
    Concerns that will detract from the visitors online experience. This includes, for example, link issues, spelling, broken images, and non-working email addresses.

    • SEO (Search engine optimization)
    Issues to correct to improve search ranking - we see the pages in the same way Google would.

    • Governance, risk and compliance (GRC)
    Corrections to minimize risks and ensure compliance, highlighting details and allowing any unnecessary risks to be removed.

  • 2013 Q4 Local Government Website Benchmark – councils rate highly on accessibility - 06 Dec 2013

    Even a brief look at the Sitemorse Q4 Index of websites in the local government sector will show how much effort many local authorities put into the systems that allow them to interact with people living in their local areas.

    With the web becoming the best way to communicate with the outside world, the UK local government sector takes their websites very seriously, and of all the sectors we survey, it’s local government that scores highest on accessibility, making sure their websites are open to all, whatever levels of disability.

    With a very high score of 9.1 out of a possible ten marks, Torbay Council moves twelve places up our table to take lead position with the best-working website we benchmarked of 429 in the local government sector this quarter.

    The “English Riviera” council based in Devon, Torbay’s website has the proud boast that it wants to make sure every visitor can access the information or service they require. Our testing would support their claim, and their site rates a 9/10 for accessibility.

    The council adopted a social media online participation agenda four years ago and uses all the main platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to support their website and to support an accessible, engaging, cost effective and transparent communications strategy.

    Sitemorse surveys the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors each quarter using our automated software, comparing sites across a variety of key criteria of user experience, and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed “Index” results for a decade. The full results from this and other recent benchmarks can be seen on our website.

    Just a fraction behind Torbay, and rising four places in the table this quarter is the website of Rhondda Cynon Taff, second largest council in Wales following the merger of three former Mid-Glamorgan districts in 1996. With a population of nearly a quarter of a million people, the council’s website has a big job to do, and we rated it a score of 9.1/10. The site has gradually been improving in the Sitemorse table over the last three years. Just behind the other two, Scottish Borders retains third place in our Index on a score of 9.0/10.

    Other big upward movers in the top 20-rated sites include Wigan, up 126 places, South Kesteven, up 16, Manchester, up 15, North east Lincolnshire, up 50 and North Norfolk, up 61.Biggest climbers overall include Dundee, which has risen 304 places, and Cirencester-based Cotswold District Council, up 302.

    Some volatility in our benchmarks, which involve large numbers of sites, is expected, as organisations score differently for a variety of reasons, for example a new or facelifted website can increases the potential score or a site can drop down the rankings when others improve.

    Why an accessible website is vital
    The local government sector scores higher than any other audited by Sitemorse in the area of accessibility, with many councils prioritising disabled access to council services for their sites. No less than 14 authorities scored a very creditable 9 out of 10 in this area and 29 councils scored 8/10, two more than in our Q2 Index in June. Top accessibility performers were Cornwall, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Broxtowe, Thurrock, Torbay, Tower Hamlets, Vale of Glamorgan, Dover, Highland, Salford, Woking, Derbyshire, Bournemouth and Stroud.

    Sitemorse commented: The very best websites provide an excellent, error free customer experience to ensure their visitors find just what they are looking for and want to return. Behind the scenes they also have to be compliant with latest web standards and fast-moving legislation, free from links to online risks like malware and ‘phishing’ sites and they should be built in a way to enhance search engine optimisation, to ensure potential customers find them. This applies just as much to the public sector as to the private, and we are always impressed by the effort local authorities in the UK put into improving the quality of their websites, a vital link with the communities they serve.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any web presence, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal ‘company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More.....

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

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