Local authority web sites are the most difficult to use, according to a new report from user research and design consultancy Webcredible released today.
The firm asked over 1,000 visitors to its site to choose the sector they believe has the most difficult web sites to use, and an overwhelming 34 per cent chose local government.
Financial services also fared badly, getting 16 per cent of the vote, while utilities came next with 12 per cent.
The likely reason for council sites performing so badly is the sheer complexity and volume of information they have to display, and the different audience groups they have to accomodate, according to Webcredible director Trenton Moss.
"There is a great challenge to get it right, but there's little incentive to do so because, if a visitor is not happy with the site, where else are they going to go?" he said.
"The same is true of financial services. If you're a customer of a bank you have no choice but to use its site. It's very unlikely that you would leave your bank because the internet banking site is poor."
Moss advised organisations that want to rebuild their sites with usability in mind to gather information from focus groups and user interviews to get a accurate idea of what users expect from the site and how they use it.
"Then comes the information architecture with best practice usability in mind, and then usability testing on that before designing and building the site, " he said. "Councils have it slightly easier in that the user and business goals are the same."
The research found that the easiest sites to use belonged to news and media companies. This could be explained by the fact that these sites are much easier to design with usability in mind as they require less user interaction than many of the other sectors, argued Moss.
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