Volume 18, July 2009
Prayag’s Annual Website Benchmark Analysis Report

 

Your website is, by far, your most important communication platform, but are you leveraging it rightly? Find out and learn a thing or two from this excerpt of WebWatch ‘09, our Annual Website Benchmarking Study which covers 59 companies across the IT spectrum.

checkPrayag is back with WebWatch - our Annual Website Benchmarking Analysis Report. Our study benchmarks the websites of companies in the IT (services, products and niche players), and BPO space against global practices for website design, navigation, content and online marketing. We have studied websites that stand out for their innovative designs, navigation styles and content strategies. The report also highlights best-in-class tactical ideas and practices.

Corporate websites searched

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This year we examined corporate websites of 59 companies, as compared to 29 last year. We classified the companies into four categories representing the typical mix of technology companies and compared adoption practices across these segments of the industry. We have tracked both Indian and MNCs operating in India. Given that India-based players compete head-to-head with some of the MNCs, it was thought appropriate to compare them on an equal footing.

Study Parameters

We analyzed the websites on five parameters, namely:

  • Navigation
  • Content
  • Design aesthetics
  • SEO
  • Web 2.0

Navigation

The simpler the navigation, the more people will read and the deeper they will delve into the site.

Karen Templar, Salon Magazine

The navigation style adopted by a site depends on the objective the company wants to achieve. Websites should focus on retaining simplicity irrespective of the style they adopt. Visitors should be able to reach the pages they are looking for with the minimum number of clicks and be able to find their way back! Most of the websites studied had the basic navigational features of search and sitemap but very few took the step ahead and offered clutter-free information.

Content

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.

Benjamin Franklin

Content is what can drive the visitor into or away from the site. It should provide a wide-angle view as to what the company is about and how it can help the visitor. From our study, we found IT services websites were the richest in content but the richness was inconsistent across the site. On the other hand, BPO sites were simple and straightforward and thus more consistent.

The majority of the websites studied were strong on messaging relevance with their homepages offering enough support material to back the stated value proposition.
Design aesthetics

Design, in its broadest sense, is the enabler of the digital era - it’s a process that creates order out of chaos that renders technology usable to business. Design means being good, not just looking good.

Clement Mok

Preferences of visual designs can be subjective, so we have structured our analysis around how websites fared on hygiene factors as:
  • Colour impact
  • Legibility
  • Readability
  • Consistency
88 percent of the companies maintained design consistencies with 83 percent following a consistent design theme. A new trend observed was the use of videos for citing customer and employee testimonials, case studies and in some places even for the service offerings.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

“An SEO mistake is better than no SEO at all.”

Just having a site in place isn’t enough for visitors to start streaming in. Websites have to be worked on so that they are listed in the results when people search using keywords. Usage of title tags, description tags, keywords, content structuring and external links drive better SEO.

We benchmarked sites on these parameters and most of them did well though BPO companies did not focus much on SEO. 57 percent of IT product sites and 64 percent of niche companies used practices that were not SEO friendly such as usage of flash and embedding text in graphics.

Web 2.0

Email preceded the Internet… blogs are ten years old, and Wikis have been around since 1995… If most of this stuff is twenty years old, why are we talking about it now? Because it’s not about the tools, it’s about the people.

Ethan Zuckerman

webKeeping in tune with the current trend, most websites are catching up with Web 2.0. And in doing so, the most common feature we came across was the Really Simple Syndication or RSS. Most companies offered feeds for investor information, press releases, but many others demonstrated a more useful use of RSS by offering feeds on specific offerings, verticals and so on.

Only 37 percent of the companies are blogging and the majority of them are in the IT and IT product space. IT product companies are the best in making use of virtual communities to reach out to retail end-users. Social media marketing tools are yet to catch up as only 24 percent companies employed them and most of them were global large players.

Summing up

This year, websites were a step ahead. We saw several new features and trends emerging. Most notable was the prevalence of Web 2.0 in various forms. As a norm, most sites are consistent in their colours, themes, messages and design but a few exceptional sites stand out.

For an in-depth analysis, read the entire report.