All Good Things Must Come to an End
For more than 10 years siteIQ has sponsored the siteIQ eBusiness Index, an ongoing study that benchmarks the performance of leading websites across the IT industry. Each year our analysts evaluate a minimum of 20 sites across no less than five different segments using industry-specific Best Practices Benchmarks that are comprised of 18 different categories ranging from Design Basics to Training & Education. These benchmarks track the volume and quality of content provided, assess website usability from the visitor’s perspective, and measure overall website performance.
The overall results of these evaluations are posted to our website, siteIQ.net, and detailed Website Content, Usability, and Performance results are available to our siteIQ Library subscribers. These detailed results are used by web teams to identify how their websites compete based on each of our scoring metrics; allow stakeholders to determine whether their site is gaining or losing ground compared to industry-wide and/or direct competitors; and to discover which sites are setting new standards and changing user expectations.
And while many web teams, strategy directors, marketing managers, and user experience professionals have found our Website Content, Website Usability, and Website Performance results helpful and informative over the years, Website Usability results have long been the most anticipated and requested of all the metrics we deliver. So, after much debate and discussion, the siteIQ eBusiness Index will be converted to the siteIQ Usability Index beginning with our 2020 evaluations.
It’s a Whole New Ball Game
This new Index will include an expanded set of Usability questions by category and focus on user experience as well as usability based on a set of eight different dimensions including Consistency, Innovation and Interactivity; Click Stream Duration; Website & Zone Logic; Ease of Locating Content; Ease of Understanding Content; Thoroughness of Content; Online Selling & Sales Links; and On site Social Media Conventions.
This new approach will help us better identify which sites are the most practical, versatile, and useful for visitors and which ones aren’t. In addition, we’ll be able to determine how well each site concisely presents information; provides efficient navigation; incorporates current convention; and allows for user control throughout the research and discovery process. What’s more, this new view will improve our ability to ascertain which sites excel in the areas of call to action, ecommerce, and post-purchase customer support.
The Times They are a Changin’
But converting the Index to Usability won’t be the only difference to our analysis in the coming year. Instead, after multiple requests over the last decade, we’ve decided to expand the scope of our research beyond tech. This means that in addition to some of the stalwart tech sites that we’ve always tracked we’ll also be evaluating sites in a whole slew of new industry segments including finance, food & beverage, merchandising (B2C), and transportation.
The addition of these industries means that a whole new group of web teams, strategy directors, marketing managers, and user experience professionals will gain the benefit of being able to accurately identify how their websites compete on the web; see where time and technical investments are paying off; and gain a clear view of the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors.
Of course, these additions also mean that Index rankings and ratings are sure to look completely different than they have in years passed — and that they will continue to look completely different well into the future.
Who Knows What the Future Holds?
In fact, we’re anxious to see how the whole scenario will play out. Will one of our Index veterans like Cisco.com, SAP.com, or Oracle.com continue to dominate the rankings? Or, will a freshman site from one of the new industry segments steal the thunder? Will sites in industries like merchandising prove to be competitive trend setters, or are they humdrum dawdlers that use obsolete templates and architectures?
In addition, we’re curious to see how well smaller sites stack up to the 800-pound gorillas when content is no longer a factor. Will scores based strictly on usability level the playing field and put more modest sites on par with the big kahunas? Or, will one of the more diminutive sites turn out to be a usability powerhouse?
Stay tuned for our 2020 siteIQ Usability Index evaluation results for the answers to these questions… And many more…