Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the best Website of all? To find out, we evaluated 23 Websites on the siteIQ eBusiness Index. We stepped them through 1,200 types of content & features. Put them through their usability paces. Checked them from top to bottom – and turned them inside out. We scored, ranked, and rated every one. Then we put all of the answers in this nifty report.

Working on the Web these days is like living inside a moving puzzle.

While you are busy managing projects, budgets, team members, contractors & agencies, herding kids – and keeping your bosses in the loop — your competitors are busy trying to change all of the rules. They are launching new sites. Crafting new content. Inventing new features. And trying to use interactivity and social media to create a competitive edge.

But here’s the question. What are they really getting for their money? Are they gaining or losing ground? And what do you need to do about it?

We set out to find the answers

To find out, we evaluated the 23 sites on the 2011 siteIQ eBusiness Index. We’re talking sites that do real business on the Web. They serve 20 million visitors a day (that’s over a half billion visitors a month)  — and drop 100 million pages onto users’ desks every 24 hours. Real business, indeed.

Since opinions are good — but facts are better — we conducted these evaluations using our Best Practices Benchmark which is packed full of the 1,230 types of content, features & capabilities you need on a best-in-class Website.

Of course, great Websites are much more than the sum of their parts. That’s why we rolled up our sleeves and conducted a second usability review based on 119 questions that measure how each site achieves visitor goals & objectives.

Then we crunched the numbers — ranked & rated each support site — created cool graphs to tell the story — added our unvarnished opinions — and rolled it all up into this nifty report.

The Big Picture

In 2011, bigger budgets broke out, 14 launches and refreshes hit the airwaves — and 8 sites rose up the rankings (EMC, Adobe, Brocade, SAP, SAS, Insight, and IBM Software Group).

When the dust cleared, IBM.com and Cisco.com were perched at the top of the heap. And that’s where the story begins.

In 2011, IBM.com transformed itself from a large, aging duckling into a swan to be reckoned with – at least above the water line. A bold top level design. Oodles of white space. Less is more content. A “cult of personality” strategy that turns plain old social media on its ear.

While IBM.com was busy reinventing itself, the Cisco.com team continued its relentless march toward usability nirvana. Today, Cisco.com is the industry’s most usable Website – earns a whopping 6 Best Practice ratings – and shares the overall #1 ranking with IBM.com.

And what about the rest of the pack? Well, a couple of things caught our eye.

Symantec.com was the usability darling last year in the #2 slot – but resting on its laurels handed it a three slot drop and it ended up in fifth place. The good news is that Symantec.com’s great architecture has given it years of top rankings. The bad news is that the free ride has finally pooped out.

For the second year in a row, HP.com tops the list as the largest and most comprehensive site on the Index. Unfortunately, all of that “stuff” comes with a downside. HP.com’s usability ranks 11th, down one slot from last year.

While IBM, HP, and Cisco executed complex kabuki dances, Dell.com’s efforts left it spinning in the same place. The bright spot? Dell.com finally took the top spot in the online support category after watching IBM and HP toss the baton back and forth for years. Just goes to show you that sooner or later claiming victory actually turns out to be true.

But enough from us, we’ll let the number’s do the talking. Just download the report below (Library Subscription Required)

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Category: Report

Class: Index Reviews and Rankings

Websites Profiled: All eBusiness Index Websites

copyright © 2011, siteIQ
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