What we learned from BIWA 2010 – part 1
30 November 2010
Well now we’re looking at the end of the year, it might be a good time to consider what we learned from this year’s Best Investor Website Awards (BIWA2010).
New sites continue to do better. The most obvious thing, which shouldn’t be news but is, is that newly-designed sites in general are better than older ones. This was not always the case. I was disappointed in 2008 to discover that of the sites that had been redesigned in the 2007–08 year, only half had improved their ranking.
So in 2008 a site that was redesigned had the same chance of being either improved or made worse. The outcome, rather than being a sound investment in improved user experience, was the same as a simple coin toss.
This year 80% of the redesigned sites have retained or improved their BIWA rankings. Each year more and more of the new site designs show an improved experience for the investor audience. In other words, if a listed company recently paid for a redesign, this year there was four times the chance it would be improved for users rather than made worse. That makes paying for a new web design look like a fairly solid bet, if you want to enhance the experience your actual and potential investors have in using your site.
I think that this turnaround is a product of broader understanding about user-centred design within the NZ web design industry – which is good news, if a little overdue. It seems that our efforts at Wired to agitate for enhanced understanding of users and their needs is bearing fruit – or are at least in tune with the times, since probably it’s not ALL our doing!
‘The Gap’ is widening – I’ve been arguing for the last couple of years that the NZX50 is gradually splitting into two ‘bunches’, like a cycle race. The leaders have made an effort to design online information for the investor audience, and those in the trailing bunch have still failed to understand the point of this.
Following on from my earlier point about new designs being better, this year six of the Top 10 company sites feature new designs. But by contrast, in the Bottom 10, there are still three that have new designs which are frankly still not up to scratch.
The overall spread of BIWA scores between top and bottom was only 39 points in 2008 – but in 2010 this had increased to 54 points. And while the best and the worst are moving further apart, the overall average score of the BIWA remains much the same around at 66 out of 100. But don’t be fooled! This does not mean that there’s an even spread of scores from top to bottom. There really is a ‘gap’ opening between the top 10 – whose average score increased this year by two points to 82.5 – and the bottom 10, whose average score decreased by three points to 46.2.
And what is the message of all this? Any listed company wanting to enhance the online information it offers to investors should seek the advice of web designers with experience in understanding the investor audience. Because these guys are going to give your investors a web design suited to their specific needs – and that’s what your competition is doing, which is why your investors are increasingly likely to expect it from you.