Website Benchmark (Consumer Finance) - The websites of the big banks are improving?

03 Dec 2012

The Sitemorse Q4 web benchmark of the UK’s top consumer finance websites has evidence supporting this view, with improvements over the last quarter from Visa Europe, HSBC and Natwest, among others.

If you use a bank or building society – and that includes virtually all of us these days – then chances are you will check your funds, apply for a mortgage or loan or a number of other financial services online at some stage.

All of the big consumer finance players are represented online, and as our latest benchmark of the sector proves, their websites offer a huge scale of consumer experience, from the very good to the extremely poor.

Only around six per cent of the 200-plus consumer finance sector websites we surveyed in October scored more than 7 out of 10 in our automated checks to quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation – a result that supports previous benchmarks earlier this year.

As our benchmark proves, even comparatively minor problems can affect user experience. Broken links, missing images, inaccessible pages and other errors can leave users frustrated and annoyed.

At the top of the list of high performing websites, with 8.7 out of a possible ten marks, is Leeds Building Society. The society held the same place – with the same mark – in our previous survey published in August and had risen seven places since our previous survey of the sector in April. The Leeds dates back to the mid-1800s but has been in its current form since 2005, and describes itself as one of the UK’s top ten building societies.

Second in the survey and rising five places is LMS Holdings, the UK’s leading legal conveyancing outsourcer. The company holds a market leading position building on 20 years experience of working with a number of major UK lenders. The LMS website scored 8.2 out of a possible ten marks.

Third in the sector are stockbrokers WH Ireland, who trace their roots back to 1872 in Manchester. Now with offices in all the UK’s main financial centres, the WH Ireland site was marked highly on function, code quality and performance, ending up with a score of 8.18 out of 10, exactly the same score as in two previous surveys.
After five successive recent quarters at the top of our consumer finance survey, Edinburgh-based Intelligent Finance has dropped down to eighth position overall with a score of 7.5. Intelligent Finance is owned by the Bank of Scotland and is a consistent performer, scoring highly on accessibility as well as functionality.

Other top-ten rated banks and financial institutions this time include Derbyshire Building Society, who topped the most recent survey of the sector but who dropped slightly this time, Julian Hodge Bank, Brown Shipley (up 4 places this time to fourth position ) and Charity Bank, in at seventh place, a rise of 9, with a score of 7.5.

But it’s the better-known names that caught the eye this month – we have sometimes been critical of the well known High Street banks which lag well down our list. Movers upwards in the table this month include Visa Europe, still only in 62nd place but with a rise of 105 places since last time, Cash Converters, up 92, and HSBC Bank, up 79 places to take 118th position.

Natwest rise 56 – albeit with a rather modest score, but an improvement nevertheless, while their parent Royal Bank of Scotland is in 123rd place, a rise of 29 since our last survey of this sector.

Sitemorse concludes: The major banks, including RBS/Natwest and Barclays all had reputational problems, as did Nationwide, when consumers were left without access to funds because of a variety of computer problems earlier this year, spotlighting how vital it is for this sector in particular to provide a good consumer experience. So it’s encouraging to see real improvements from many of the big names in banking.

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 called the Web Managers Toolkit, designed to help web teams, as well as free in-browser tools that can be used by any web user to quickly ensure pages are error-free. 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.

Technical Data

This survey took place on October 7, 2012 and involved benchmarking more than a quarter of a million separate URLs. Poorest code quality was recorded for the Alliance and Leicester site, with more than 120,000 failures. Fastest overall response time from any site tested was the European Bank. Only four sites were classed as error-free, and 38 sites were excluded from the index, either because they were unavailable or because they use assistive technology such as JavaScript, which breaks the general “rules of accessibility” of internet sites, according to Sitemorse.

• For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 1525 375057, gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

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