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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

One in seven websites fail to make the grade

In 2004, more firms than ever will bite the bullet and put customer-facing Web services into production. But can they actually get it right?

A survey carried out by Forrester Research, found that fifty-seven percent of the companies interviewed plan to deploy Web services this year.

But whether or not these services will be successful is another question entirely!

A new report by Jupiter Research, based on a review of 239 well-known, consumer-facing Web sites spanning different industries, found that a shocking one in seven had prominent errors on their home pages severe enough to undermine visitors' confidence and cause them to turn elsewhere.

So where exactly are we all going wrong?

Of the home pages tested:

· 24 had broken links ("404" errors)

· 14 provoked server errors

· Five linked to sites with nonexistent host names

· Three pointed to servers that were unavailable

In all, Jupiter Research tested over 22,000 links, more than 50% of which were routed through manual "redirect" or tracking scripts to measure consumer behaviour - a tactic especially prone to generating errors.

The issue isn't that usability issues are being ignored. A recent Jupiter Research Executive Survey placed improving site usability as the top concern of web operators (49% of respondents), whereas worries over budget constraints (47%) weighed in at second place, followed by measuring return on online investment (40%).

Yet increasing awareness of the issue is not actually being reflecting in improved standards.

Rather the opposite in fact, quality remains poor for many Web sites.

According to David Schatsky, Senior Vice President of Research at Jupiter Research:

"Despite the high priority of improving site usability, the basics of Web site operations - having error free pages, consumer-friendly messaging and navigation that makes sense - require putting yourself in the visitor's shoes, a tact only indirectly served by traditional quality assurance."

Sources: Forrester Research, Jupiter Media Metrix

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