In the Bowen Craggs Index of corporate website effectiveness league table we have Shell and BP in first and 2nd place. And yet these two sites fail on a range of very basic quality and compliance measures that must surely call into question their effectiveness. AstraZeneca, the only other UK site in the top ten, has clear performance issues which again must have an impact on its overall effectiveness.
And it’s all very well looking at what “facilities” are available on a website for visitors and the sites use of Social Media etc. But if the sites are littered with broken links, have basic accessibility issues and poor performance then surely they can’t be claimed to be the most effective sites in the world !
To validate our reasoning and our capability to question these findings we have taken 3 very basic requirements of a corporate website and, looking at the highest rated UK sites in the table, we offer some of the actual issues (we are more than happy to share exact details – the market needs far greater transparency) which we found on the 3 sites:
AstraZeneca – website performance
When looking at performance one of the key tests is ‘time to wait’ – how long does it take for anything to happen after you click a link. In checking the top pages of the site, the average wait time of the slowest 10 items was just under 3.75 seconds. One item leaves you sitting there for over 6 seconds before anything happens!
A 2009 survey by Forrester Consulting showed that 40% of visitors will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a website.
Shell – website accessibility
How can they be the top site when looking at accessibility, which Shell make great claims about on their website, they have basic failures like missing alt text on images and missing page titles ?
It’s generally accepted that making sites accessible for people with disabilities not only fulfils your social responsibilities (and meets your legal obligations) but also makes your site much easier to use for those people without disabilities. A great win-win scenario.
If a site doesn’t meet even the basic accessibility requirements then it is ineffective for a significant minority of the population.
BP – basic quality issues – broken links
Again looking at the top pages of their website we found webpages and some important IR documents (an area that should be key to a corporate website used for investor communications) contain broken links, and some have out of date links to pre-launch/staging servers.
I found one link that just displays a completely blank page. I would count that as pretty ineffective on lots of counts !