Websites Don’t Meet Consumer Expectations, Report Finds

Adweek reports on a study by the Web Marketing Association indicating that companies are not keeping up with rising consumer expectations regarding their corporate web sites. The WMA’s Internet Standards Assessment Report, released on Tuesday, benchmarks websites across 96 industries and, for the second consecutive year, shows a decline “in the overall standard of excellence.” From WMA President William Rice:

“Web standards are not falling, [but] we believe that consumer expectations … indicate that Web sites have to work harder at creating a total user experience that both informs and entertains the visitors who reach their sites.”

Website assessments are based on seven criteria: Design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting, and ease of use. The industries whose sites scored highest are (in descending order): airlines, computer retailers, gaming sites, toy and hobby sites, and food. Those with the lowest scores were Internet service providers, credit unions, brokerage sites, and directory or search engines. 

There’s plenty of other interesting data in the paper, but I don’t need a 117-page report to tell me what my own eyes can see: that many companies are woefully clueless in their efforts to provide a satisfactory experience to website visitors. Some simply don’t put enough resources into their efforts; others over-engineer to the point where their sites become unnavigable (I think that’s a word). Many sites are a confusing mish-mash that show the conflicting functional agendas between marketing, IT and anyone else with some skin in the game. And I don’t see those types of baked-in cultural issues being resolved anytime soon.

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