Software sites are always walking a tight wire. They often sell very expensive, highly complex products to specialized audiences that have unique needs — and high standards. These factors require software sites to:
- Market products to consumers as well as businesses
- Deliver content about complicated products and solutions that is easy to understand
- Present support features that cover customized products for customers who have varying degrees of technical knowledge
- Offer training information that is clear and concise using systems that are intuitive
- Include communities that address their audience’s specific needs and interests
- Provide online eCommerce
In order to assess how well Software sites market, sell, and support their varied audiences the eBusiness Index historically included two software segments — Business and Enterprise. Then, at the beginning of the year, we revised our definitions and realigned the specifications for different industry segments based on overarching strategies and behaviors of sites in the same line of business.
As a result, the two software segments were merged into one, some poorly performing sites were eliminated and some others were reassigned based on redefined industry parameters. In the end, seven sites — Adobe.com, Citrix.com, IBM.com, Microsoft.com, Oracle.com, SAP.com and Symantec.com — were designated for inclusion on the Software segment roster.
Once we had our list in place the siteIQ team evaluated these sites using the siteIQ Best Practices Benchmark. The Software version of the benchmark identifies and tracks 1,059 types of website content that represent current requirements for Software sites and includes 145 usability questions that measure site versatility and usefulness from the visitor’s point of view.
This case study announces the leaders and the laggers in the Software industry based on Overall Website Performance, Total Website Content, and Overall Website Usability scores.
For the most part Software sites are all horses of the same color. With the exception of IBM.com — which neglects to include online communities — they all provide a complete complement of content and features for visitors. They all offer online eCommerce and they all supply post-purchase features to support customers once the sale is complete.
In theory, this puts Software sites on a level playing field where each has an equal opportunity to emerge victorious. In practice, however, it quickly becomes evident that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the results of our 2019 Software segment evaluations reveal that the Software sites we track fall into three distinct groups.
The first group consists of SAP.com and Oracle.com. These two sites are powerhouse performers that provide vast catalogs of content for visitors that are consistently delivered via innovative user-centric interfaces that include all the tools and resources visitors need to research products and services in order to make a purchase. Better still, these sites actively engage visitors and encourage them to become customers by using interactive chat and other innovative features.
The second group consists of IBM.com, Microsoft.com, and Symantec.com. These sites are average competitors that provide ample amounts of content that is delivered via interfaces that are often an inconsistent mix of old company-centric and new user-centric pages. On these sites, tools and resources — as well as call to action elements that engage and encourage visitors — are inconsistently included across each company’s product, services, and industry marketing pages.
The third group consists of Adobe.com and Citrix.com. These sites are inconsistent performers that occasionally have the right stuff to compete with industry leaders, but most often wind up in lower-ranking positions. These sites provide meager content portfolios in comparison to tier one sites so they offer considerably less information for visitors.
Making matters worse, these sites use architectural structures that can be illogical for visitors to deliver interfaces that — like tier two sites — are often an inconsistent mix of old and new pages. Worse still, critical resources are often missing from product, services, and industry marketing pages and eCommerce facilities provide the bare minimum of features for visitors who want to become customers.
So, while Software sites may all be horses of the same color, they don’t necessarily run at the same pace. Rather, some are running to win, some are running to place, and some are running to show. This begs the question, will sites in the latter two groups ever be able to run with industry leaders? The answer: only time will tell.
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About the siteIQ Usability Index
siteIQ evaluated the twenty-five Tech Websites listed on the 2020 siteIQ Usability Index. These Websites are categorized into five industry-specific segments including:
- Software (Adobe.com, Citrix.com, IBM.com, Microsoft.com, Oracle.com, SAP.com, Symantec.com)
- Systems (CDW.com, Dell.com, HPE.com, Huawei Enterprise, IBM.com, Intel.com, Lenovo.com)
- Networking (Cisco.com, Juniper.net, PaloAltoNetworks.com, Riverbed.com)
- Cloud (AWS.com, Google Cloud, Salesforce.com, VMWare.com)
- Consumer (Apple.com, Dell.com, HP.com, Lenovo.com, LG.com, Samsung.com)
These in-depth evaluations were conducted using the 2020 edition of the siteIQ Usability Index Best Practices Benchmark, which tracks results in 18 sub-categories and 16 Usability Dimensions.
The 2020 evaluations were performed during the first quarter of 2020.
Category: Index Rankings
Class: Website Reviews and Rankings
Websites Profiled: siteIQ Usability Index Websites – Tech Industry