14 Jun 2012
The last thing you would expect from the cream of Britain’s industrial companies is that they would apparently neglect their major channel of communication with customers, shareholders and the outside world. But that’s what new research from Sitemorse would seem to suggest.
Our unique benchmarking surveys, which appear several times a year, provide an up to the minute snapshot of the best and brightest business websites. This Index has been sponsored by our partner CST Group, the Brighton-based specialist new media agency. They are offering any site owner or manager a free summary of their own site’s performance – for yours, please contact Paul Ockenden firstname.lastname@example.org
Our quarterly review of the websites of around 500 companies in the FTSE All Share index compares them on criteria including function, code quality, accessibility and performance And many of the best-known brands languish at the bottom of the table, while smaller companies with less to spend on their websites take the honours. The full results of the survey can be seen in the surveys section of our website.
We’d say it’s essential for a successful major company nowadays to have an efficient and well-maintained web presence – either one site or more likely a number of allied ones.
Why? For a start there’s reputation – whether multinational or UK-based, most major companies have spent a huge amount of time, money and effort to get to where they are – so surely they are unlikely to risk their reputation by condoning a poor website.
Then there’s often a bottom-line reason to have a decent site. If your website is transactional, for example, you won’t want your customers deserting in droves if they think your site isn’t working properly. Even if you’re not actively selling online, your shareholders, potential employees and other stakeholders will think less of you if they can’t find their way around your main channel of communication with the outside world.
Small companies may have the “no budget for that this year” excuse- major ones usually have agencies, designers and web teams armed with decent budgets already working on the site.
The above makes the results of the latest Sitemorse survey of FTSE All Share websites all the more mystifying.
Sitemorse conducts regular surveys of the websites of businesses and organisations and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed results for a decade.
More than 320 companies, including some very well known names, couldn’t manage a score of even five out of ten on our criteria. Although the very best sites in this survey scored between eight and ten, only nine websites out of more than 500 could be classed as error-free. And a dozen failed accessibility tests on every page.
Best sites in this survey are headed by leading independent brewing and pub business Marstons Plc. With five breweries and more than 2,000 pubs, Marstons clearly know a lot about brewing and their site scored 9.2 out of a possible ten marks based on the Sitemorse criteria. With ten out of ten marks for code quality, performance and accessibility, Marstons were the cream of the FTSE sites tested this time.
Just behind them were WPP, the world’s largest communications group headed by Sir Martin Sorrell. The WPP website scored just over nine out of ten marks in our testing and has risen 36 places in the table since we last surveyed this sector earlier in the year.
Other high flyers in this survey are automotive dealer parent company Pendragon Plc, Monks Investment Trust plc (Baillie Gifford) and commercial property specialists London and Stamford Properties. Nice to see the return of St.Modwen Properties Plc at sixth in the table, a rise of 110 places since the last survey. Other top 20 notables are pensions specialists Hargreaves Lansdown plc and Drax Group.
Top climbers in this table include Cairn Energy, up 315 places, but serious falls have been sustained by Brewin Dolphin Holdings, down 212 places, ITV, down 255 and power rental global leader Aggreko, which dropped a surprising 284 places.
It’s the bottom 100 sites of the 546 surveyed that tell the story, however. Major brands languishing here include brewers Whitbread, travel firm Tui, airline Flybe, the London Stock Exchange Group, National Grid, Lloyds Banking Group, mining multinationals Lonrho and BHP Billiton, Rolls Royce, J D Wetherspoon, Cable & Wireless, Smith & Nephew, Marks and Spencer, Diageo, Next, BP and Glaxo Smithkline. All of them scored less than four out of a possible ten marks.
Sitemorse concluded: It’s far from the first time we have had cause to point out problems with the websites of major companies in the FTSE index, and this latest survey shows no real change. It would appear the companies with the most resources are either not spending them on their web communications, or fail to see problems plainly under their noses.
We would recommend to all companies that they regularly review their sites for out-of-date legacy content, poor code, and missing images. The difference between being the best and worst performers in our tables comes down to taking reasonable care over minor details that can cause users major problems.
About our surveys, and how they work
For more than a decade, Sitemorse has been the world's only single solution for web content governance, monitoring, recording and benchmarking.
Our unique Index publications, published several times a year, provide an up to the minute snapshot of the best and brightest business websites, with insight into which are passing – and failing - vital tests in performance, compliance, and accessibility.
Our software is used to test the sites of major organisations in a variety of sectors, (for example, FTSE All Share companies, and the UK Top 500 retail companies) to compile an index of who ‘does the web’ best.
Sitemorse is now the suite of choice for organisations wishing to ensure their sites provide total, holistic web governance and a great user experience. Our hundreds of clients across major corporates, local and national government, utilities, financials and the health sector rely on us to help them improve the performance, compliance and quality of their websites, delivering control and web confidence.
Web content management systems alone cannot hope to cover major issues such as performance, compliance, brand, accessibility and quality without help. Our products integrate (including pre-live checking - within your CMS) to ensure these vital areas are constantly under control.
We offer three levels of products, from our enterprise platform 'Governisation', a blend of governance and optimisation, to a suite of tools to help web editors and managers, as well as free in-browser tools that can be used by any web user to quickly ensure pages are error-free (our web managers toolkit). All our services are SaaS based, with no set-up or management and are designed to ensure that our hundreds of clients in major corporations, the financial sector, and central and local government have total confidence in their websites.
This survey took place on April 21, 2012 and involved benchmarking nearly three-quarter of a million separate URLs. Poorest code quality was recorded for the Mothercare plc site, with more than 463,000 failures. Fastest overall response time from any site tested was the Genesis Emerging Markets Fund LD.
• More information about our surveys and what they test can be seen on our website at www.sitemorse.com
• For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 1525 375057, gpaddock@Sitemorse.com
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