As announced earlier this year, 2018 marks our inaugural evaluations using the new Best Practices benchmark that identifies competitive requirements based on today’s websites.
This benchmark includes criteria that accurately reflects current “Less is More” strategies — and eliminates resources associated with outdated “More is Better” wisdom. As a result, the number of total possible Website Features drops from 1,509 to 1,059 — a reduction we predicted would disrupt future eBusiness Index scoring and rankings.
Flash forward to today. siteIQ analysts have finished reviewing eBusiness Index results by industry and started processing data by website so we can assess competitive performance and announce our annual Overall Performance and category-specific winners.
Not surprisingly, early calculations confirm our prediction. Reducing website features disrupts eBusiness Index rankings across each of our three scoring metrics (Website Performance, Features, Usability). These results also reveal, however, that a bunch of modestly-sized sites are creating most of the commotion.
New Rules Create Opportunities
Compared to our 2017 analysis, early results indicate major changes in the Overall Website Performance rankings, particularly within the Top 10. As interesting, at least four of the Top 10 ranking websites are moderately sized properties that previously held positions quite a bit farther down the roster. A look behind the numbers reveals that the advances these sites make are due, in large part, to the reduction of total possible website features tracked on the siteIQ Best Practices Benchmark.
This is because a lesser number of possible features in any given category makes it easier to achieve a higher Website Performance by Category score. Taken in whole category-specific gains send Overall Website Performance in a positive direction, which creates momentum that propels these more modest properties up the ranking roster.
Of course, this upward movement shoves some larger legacy sites down in the Overall Website Performance rankings — and in some cases completely out of the Top 10.
Jettisoning Ballast Can Sink a Ship
That’s not to say that upward movement by a band of modestly-sized sites is the only factor affecting the alignment of larger legacy sites within the Top 10.
Rather, at least two eBusiness Index origin sites have undergone a substantial reduction of resources since our 2017 evaluations. This means Website Features scores drop, which in turn, works to bring down Overall Website Performance numbers. Subsequently, these sites, which have long held positions at — or near — the top of the rankings will now take a spot somewhere in the middle of the pack.
The Natives are Restless
Beyond the Top 10, the Overall Website Performance rankings still looks to be interesting. At least two smaller sites make their way up from the bottom to the middle of the roster while one former overall performance leader lands in this range with a resounding thud.
eBusiness Index newcomer (and late entrant to the 2018 evaluation roster) e.Huawei.com appears to debut with a mid-roster ranking that doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on overall results — but does validate the site’s inclusion on the Index.
Finally, the low-end lineup is mainly comprised of the usual suspects — with a couple of not-so-usual ones thrown in. At least two well-known medium-large sites drop like a rock to the very bottom of the performance rankings — but each does so for a completely different reason.
One Step Forward… Or Two Steps Back
Given the reduction of benchmark criteria since 2017 evaluations, it’s impossible for preliminary analysis not to show major adjustments in the Total Website Features roster. In fact, all but one of the Top 10 websites moves up or down the roster by at least one position — and at least one of those sites makes a double-digit advance in the rankings.
Sometimes Bigger is Better
Additionally, early results indicate that the reduction of total criteria works to the advantage of almost half of the Top 10. This is evidenced by Total Website Features scores that break eBusiness Index records — and set new ones.
Based on preliminary findings at least three of the Top 10 earn an “Above Average” Competitive Rating and achieve Good Practice status. More important, one additional site earns an “Excellent” Competitive Rating while achieving Best Practice status — an accomplishment never achieved in the history of the siteIQ eBusiness Index.
It bears mention, however, that each of these properties are larger legacy sites that typically land at the top of the Total Website Features roster because they deliver vast catalogs of content. Thus, it’s not surprising to see a bump in scores — or competitive ratings or rankings — when measured against a lesser number of possible features.
There are Two Sides to Every Coin
Meanwhile, the remainder of the Top 10 all post Total Website Features scores that earn an “Average” Competitive Rating, but that’s where the similarities end.
Some are eBusiness Index origin sites that typically shuffle up or down the roster by one or two positions while others are sites that climb substantially in the rankings due to the wholesale addition of previously unavailable content and features.
Everything is in a State of Flux, Including the Status Quo
As is to be expected, the substantial climb that some sites take to reach the Top 10 clearly disrupts the remainder of the Total Website Features rankings. At least six of the remaining sites move up or down the roster by five or more positions.
This level of activity is unprecedented as sites historically fluctuate by fewer than three positions in the rankings when total features are measured. This is clear evidence that evaluation against the trimmed benchmark significantly impacts individual website scoring — and the total features rankings.
All Shook Up
Preliminary data indicates that the Overall Website Usability rankings are in a jumble for several reasons.
First, the wholesale addition of previously unavailable features to some sites ultimately makes content seem more thorough and/or the site easier to use. This works to increase category-specific — and ultimately overall — usability scores. In turn these gains create momentum that generates movement up the Overall Website Usability roster.
Second, the indiscriminate removal of features from some sites ultimately makes content seem less thorough and/or the site more difficult to use. This works to decrease category-specific — and ultimately overall — usability scores. In turn these losses create momentum that generates movement down the Overall Website Usability roster.
Third, evaluation against the new trimmed benchmark has an interesting affect on website usability scores. The lesser number of total possible features resets user expectation regarding site & zone logic, ease of navigation, depth of click streams, and thoroughness of content causing scores in these areas to increase across multiple benchmark categories. The obvious result is that overall scores increase triggering movement up the ranking roster.
The net result is that the Top 10 ranking websites are an interesting mix of larger eBusiness Index origin sites that typically place at (or near) the top of the Website Usability rankings and a handful of more moderately sized competitors that have risen from previously held sub-par positions.
You Learn Something New Every Day
As is the case with the Website Features roster, the substantial climb that some sites take to reach the Top 10 clearly disrupts the remainder of the Overall Usability rankings. In this instance, however, nearly all the remaining sites move up or down the roster by five positions or more. This is clear evidence that the reduction of total benchmark features has a greater impact on usability scoring than one might think. It also underscores that effective usability is equally as — if not more — important than adequate features in achieving respectable website performance scores.
The Final Analysis
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
So, at the end of the day, which site — or sites — will emerge victorious once all the Website Feature, Usability and Overall Performance scores are calculated? Only time will tell, but our gut reaction is that there’s likely to be some fresh faces at the top of the leader board when we announce our Overall Performance and category-specific winners.
Who Knows What the Future Holds
And what about our 2019 Index run? Expect to see some fresh faces there as well. Given the havoc the new Best Practice Benchmark creates on scoring and rankings we’ll be reassessing the inclusion of several sites on the eBusiness Index roster. Once all is said and done, we’ll likely swap out some old sites for new ones — and may even shake up the industry segments evaluated.
So, it’ll be even more interesting to see who emerges victorious based on next year’s review when both the new benchmark and eBusiness Index Roster are in play!
Stay tuned for our current Overall Performance and category-specific winners and to learn more about the upcoming 2019 eBusiness Index Roster.
About the siteIQ eBusiness Index
siteIQ evaluated the twenty-five Websites listed on the 2018 siteIQ eBusiness Index. These Websites are categorized into eight industry-specific segments including:
- Business Software (Adobe.com, Microsoft.com, Symantec.com, Citrix.com)
- Cloud (Salesforce.com, Netsuite.com)
- Enterprise Software (CA.com, IBM Software, Oracle.com, SAP.com)
- Enterprise Systems (Dell.com, IBM.com, HPE.com)
- Network Systems (Brocade.com, PaloAltoNetworks.com, Cisco.com, Juniper.net)
- Professional Services (Accenture.com, Capgemini.com, Cognizant.com, IBM Global Services)
- Consumer Systems (HP.com, Apple.com)
- Enterprise Storage (EMC.com, NetApp.com)
These in-depth evaluations were conducted using the 2018 edition of the siteIQ eBusiness Index Best Practices Benchmark, which includes 18 distinct categories. Within each category, sites are scored based on three unique criteria:
- Website Features: The content, resources, assets, and collateral provided on any given Website. The siteIQ Best Practices Benchmark currently identifies & tracks over 1,000 types of Website features that represent typical competitive requirements. Within each category siteIQ analysts track the number — as well as quality — of features provided.
- Website Usability: The overall practicality, versatility, usefulness, and convenience of any given Website. The siteIQ Best Practices Benchmark currently includes 145 metrics that measure usability from the visitor’s perspective. Within each category siteIQ analysts score usability questions based on a strict set of standards to award between 1—100 points per question.
- Overall Performance: The aggregate suitability of any given Website that factors Website Features and Website Usability scores.
The 2018 evaluations were performed during the first quarter of 2018.
Category: Index Rankings
Class: Website Reviews and Rankings
Websites Profiled: siteIQ eBusiness Index Websites