Ranking the world’s top corporate websites

The Financial Times today posted in their Digital Business section an article summarizing the findings of a new comparative study of how the websites of the 60 biggest corporations — 20 from North America, 20 from Europe, and 20 from the rest of the world — rank in terms of serving its main constituents and overall accomplishing what a website is supposed to accomplish. The surprise is in the composition of the winning list, the FT Bowen Craggs Index:

“Of the top ten companies in the rankings, eight are European based; just two come from the US.”

As a European living in the U.S., I welcome such studies which should encourage us all to learn from each other, regardless of where we come from. The Silicon Valley is not the whole world, and that is a good thing.

Email marketing problems start with the links

I just received an email inviting me to participate in a self-evaluation of my email marketing savvy.  The problem with the message was that the links that was supposed to lead me to the online questionnaire was disabled by my Outlook email client:

Disabled links in emails reduce email’s impact and usability

Whose fault it was? My Outlook was being proactive in creating a safe environment by disabling links that might lead to an unsafe site (whatever the criteria for this is). Outlook did give me the option of enabling the embedded links by clicking on the top of the tool bar. I enabled the embedded link by making that extra click simply because I decided to use this annoyance for a topic of this post. However, it is very unlikely that I would do that otherwise for a message from a sender I am not familiar with.

Which brings me to the point of email marketing effectiveness and its link with web usability. An email is effective only if it engages the reader and sends them to a website for an action. If I am not compelled to go visit the website, the email did not achieve its goal. If the design of the email prevents me from visiting the target website, it has nobody else to blame for its failure. The email should make it not only compelling for me to click on that link but easy as well. Adding a simple text/HTML link would have solved the problem easily.

I am sure Alterian are very experienced marketers. But everybody can learn and we never stop learning. Taking the time to test their own email campaigns would probably teach Alterian a lesson or two about email marketing effectivenes.

Walmart Video Download Store showing no respect for web standards

Yesterday Walmart launched a video download store which is supposed to rival iTunes in enabling online download of movies. The selection of more than 3000 titles is impressive. What is disappointing is that the site does not work in Firefox:

Walmart video download store in Firefox

Not surprisingly, the store works fine in Internet Explorer 7:

Walmart video download store in IE7

Now, having the word BETA on a newly launched website is a fine, and nowadays fashionable, excuse — a certainly more elegant solution than the notorious “site under contruction” sign we used to see in the yesteryears — but neglecting 10% or so of your web audience which uses the Firefox browser, does not make much business sense, particularly when you want to establish credibility in a new business.

Nobody’s Perfect But Anyone Can Improve

While most surveys focus on big business websites, small companies can benefit from the persistent warning about the importance of web analytics, usability testing, and web site optimization.

Jupiter Research reports that one in seven consumer-facing web sites has an error on their home page severe enough to cause visitor defection. Jakob Nielsen reports in his article “Ten Most Violated Homepage Design Guidelines” that about two-thirds of corporate sites violate the usable design principles they are familiar with. This is both good and bad news for small businesses’ websites. More importantly, this is a free lesson for anyone with striving for professional web presence!
Continue reading “Nobody’s Perfect But Anyone Can Improve”