A staggering 90 per cent of corporate Web sites fail to deliver what their owners expected from their investment, claims one industry watcher.
Internet marketing guru Jakob Nielsen backs up his claim with data from a recent report by Forrester Research, entitled 'Why most Web sites fail'.
Forrester audited 20 major corporate sites and found that only 51 per cent were compliant with simple Web usability principles such as 'is the site organised by user goals?' and 'does a search list retrievals in order of relevance?'.
?In other words, the average site violated half of these simple design principles,? said Nielsen in his analysis.
Of the companies Forrester interviewed, 56 per cent mentioned 'fast performance' as being a goal. Other principles didn?t really come into the design equation. They are "essentially poking blindly to the design space," maintains Nielsen.
Forrester claims that the cost of fixing a bad Web design, which has not been properly tested, will have an adverse impact on the company?s sales and online reputation as well as a financial one in terms of a fix.
The report estimates that about 50 per cent of potential sales are lost from badly designed sites because consumers cannot find what they want.
Another 40 per cent are lost because people do not make return visits to the site because they were so frustrated first time around.
Forrester believes that many Web users actually give up searching the Internet altogether because they cannot find what they want quickly and efficiently.
This is backed up by a study by Zona Research in the US, which maintains that 62 per cent of Web shoppers give up trying to buy what they want online because it takes too long or is too complicated - or both.
The most dramatic remedy that Forrester suggested for the problem is closing down the bad sites. In the majority of cases, however, it believes improvements are possible to the existing site.
Nielsen believes that consumers do get something out of the Internet because they spend their time on good sites, but whenever they attempt to try something new the odds are stacked against them.
Forrester predicts that Internet solutions agencies will start building usability into their offerings, but it will still be up to the client to take an active role in monitoring whether the site is working for them.
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