Analyst group Forrester are half-way through their analysis of key UK consumer websites covering 4 sectors, Wireless Providers (Vodafone, BT & O2); Newspapers (The Guardian, Times and Telegraph); Supermarkets (Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco) and finally TV Broadcasters (BBC, Channel 4 and ITV).
So far we have the TV report and the Retailers report (both by Craig Menzies et al) in in detail. The results do not make a pretty read for either, with both sets falling way behind the website comparisons from service providers and newspapers.
To undertake the survey, Forrester asked a representative sample (the size seemed very small but maybe I missed something), to go forth and surf for some specific information/aims. For the TV sites it was info, video and programmes on global warming and for the supermarkets they had to buy 6 bottles of decent plonk, some soft drinks and try to get delivery before Saturday morning with change from £80.
These are hardly onerous tasks to do and I know which household I’d prefer to get a dinner invite from. The supermarkets are filled to the gunnels with cheap (and decent quality) wine, so much so that both publicans and doctors see that as a problem. Meanwhile, the broadcasters, especially the BBC, are not exactly short of Green content. So what went wrong?
For the supermarkets, Forrester’s description should be familiar to anyone who has tried to order their grocery online – navigation was confusing, the web designers over-egged some parts while leaving some links obscure. Thus, Sainsbury’s had seeming clicky-bits that weren’t clickable and vice versa and interactive elements that ‘behaved inconsistently’. Ho hum, we’ve all see them. Tesco had a flaw I’ve seen online and off – navigation is a nightmare and it was only too hard to find some items. But at least offline I’ve never had the contents of my trolley disappear and I don’t need to register to enter the store. For Asda the issue was ‘presentation and trust’ – text was unclear, as was whether one had added an item to the cart…a basic I would have thought.
The TV sites fared similarly. The BBC sent users off on an “IKEA shopping trip” forcing their visitors on certain routes, often toward their iPlayer. For C4 and ITV, the designers had been let out unsupervised for too long and so interaction was over-complicated and once again there were issues with the clicky-bits and vice versa.
The findings were not all of on the blink sites and long virtual queues however. On the TV sites the BBC search worked well with good contextual help, C4 had great content clearly categorised and ITV provided excellent feedback on areas such as load times. Similar findings were seen at the shop sites with Sainsbury’s search working well, Tesco actually delivered (literally one hopes) and Asda provided clear direction to users.
The experience here still leaves unasked the big question as to whether these major players actually test their sites with real people and look at their aims and objectives. Forrester are clear here and urge that the site owners really test the usability, present the business case for doing this and look at the real online experience.
For all of them, Forrester argue it come down to Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD). Here’s what they say this means for the online experience:
1) Obsess about customer needs, not product features; 2) reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications; and 3) treat customer experience as a competence, not a function.
Happy viewing, happy shopping…