The Best And Worst Of Website Design

We just published Best And Worst Of B2C Site Design, 2008 which evaluated the consumer-facing Websites of the following 16 large companies (this was part of our cross-channel evaluations):

  • Airlines: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Air Lines
  • Banks: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wachovia, Wells Fargo
  • Department stores: JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears
  • Mp3 manufacturers: Apple, Creative, iRiver, Sony

The research used Forrester’s Web Site Review methodology (which is a form of an expert review) to grade the experiences across 25 criteria. Here are some of the findings from the research:

  • None of the sites received a passing score [25 or higher]; the overall average was -5.2
  • Airlines [0.8] got the highest average score; MP3 manufacturers [-17] got the lowest
  • Delta Airlines [14] got the highest score; Sony [-21] got the lowest
  • The criteria break down into four categories: Value, Navigation, Presentation, and Trust. Banks struggled the most with the Value criteria, while the other industries struggled most with Navigation criteria.
  • For each of the 25 criteria, sites received a grade between -2 (severe failure) to +2 (best practice); a pass is +1 or more. Here are the criteria with the lowest average scores across the sites:
    • Is text legible? [-2.0]
    • Is the task flow efficient? [-1.5]
    • Does the site help users avoid and recover from errors? [-1.2]
    • Does the site present privacy and security policies in context? [-1.0]
    • Does the landing page(s) provide evidence that the user goals can be completed? [-0.9]
    • Are keyword-based searches comprehensive and precise? [-0.9]
    • Do menu categories immediately expose or describe their subcategories? [-0.5]
    • Do interactive elements behave as expected? [-0.4]

Interestingly, these results are consistent with the findings that I discussed in my first post Lessons Learned From 1,001 Web Site Reviews

I need to give a shout out to the Vidya Drego, Adele Sage, and Andrew McInnes who did most of the hard work on the research.

The bottom line: There’s no good reason for a bad Web experience.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

One thought on “The Best And Worst Of Website Design”

  1. Hi there

    I work for an Internet Specialist in essex so I understand the importance of ahving a great site, big corporate companies such as the ones listed really should invest in getting not only a good looking site but a highly functional site too otherwise a smaller company with a more corporate look will get the edge over them and it would be there own fault!
    Good article alltogether, good insight.


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