FT Bowen Craggs Index of corporate website effectiveness is an annual study that evaluates 75 corporate websites and how well they serve their customers, investors, job-seekers, and the media.
The study found that Apple's website, which achieved the joint top score alongside Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Wells Fargo for customer service, was among the worst in the US for media relations, general contact information, and IR.
Google and Microsoft also suffered from a similar problem, both scoring low on the construction metric, which evaluates a site's "usability."In terms of "serving the media," AT&T and Verizon were the highest scoring US sites, while General Electric and Procter & Gamble were the highest overall scoring US companies.
David Bowen, co-author of the study and senior consultant at Bowen & Craggs, believes the corporate websites that did not score highly reflected a "decentralized" way of working.
“However decentralized an organization is, it is a huge mistake to carry this kind of fragmentation across into a website," he said. "In Apple's case, a heavy concentration on marketing and not enough consideration for the outside world is why it, and to a lesser extent Google and Microsoft, scored so low.”
To improve an organization's corporate website, Bowen noted that the overall site responsibility should not lie with the marketing division, but rather with the corporate communications department who looks after multiple stakeholders.
He added that the corporate website should be the primary communication base for a company.
“There seems to be an issue among some US companies that the corporate website is less important than an organization's social media output and this might explain why some websites are not being improved as well as they could be," he said. "Companies need to remember that a website is the one place they can tell their story in their own words; this is not possible to do in social media.”