Financial Services Web Sites Benchmarked in New Internet Study: Score Highest in Design, Content and Ease of Use

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According to the Internet Standards Assessment Report (ISAR) released by the Web Marketing Association, Financial services Web sites generally outperformed the ISAR Index prior to 2002, but have fallen below the average for the past three years. Because of this recent disappointing performance, they also lag the 3-year averages for each of the individual judging criteria.

According to the Internet Standards Assessment Report (ISAR) released by the Web Marketing Association, Financial services Web sites generally outperformed the ISAR Index prior to 2002, but have fallen below the average for the past three years. Because of this recent disappointing performance, they also lag the 3-year averages for each of the individual judging criteria. The ISAR study provides industry benchmarks for Web site development and is based on data collected from nearly 10,000 Web site evaluations in more than 80 industries over the past decade. A copy of the full report can be downloaded at http://www.webaward.org/isar_report.asp.

“Financial services web sites typically score well in content, copywriting and ease of use, but lag in innovation and use of technology owing to the generally conservative nature of most traditional financial services companies,” said William Rice, president of the Web Marketing Association. “The financial services industry was early to recognize the potential of the Internet in terms of reducing the cost of customer service. Account access and financial planning calculators were ubiqudous by the end of the 1990s. Since 2002, however, the level of web development has shown a marked decline from the ISAR Index. It appears after heavy investment in their Web sites, many companies are no longer keeping up with the other industries in terms of Web development.”

Since 1997, the Web Marketing Association has been conducting its annual WebAward Competition for Web site development. The Internet Standards Assessment Report is the results of nearly a decade of independent evaluations of Web site development based on seven categories: design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting and ease of use. The financial services industry is represented in the WebAwards with several categories, including financial services, investment, mutual funds, banking, brokerage, credit unions, and insurance.

Within the financial services industry, only investment and mutual fund Web sites were above average for 2005. Credit unions beat our bank web site and brokerage site received the lowest average score.

Here are past Best of Industry WebAward winners in financial services-related categories.

Best Financial Services Website

2005 Merrill Lynch Gateway Website

2004 Trancentrix

2003 Deutsche Bank Global Cash Management

Best Investment Website

2005 BusinessWeek Online

2004 Allied Capital Corporation

2003 Summit Partners

Best Mutual Funds Website

2005 Cohen & Steers Website

2004 HighMark Funds Website

2003 Barclays Global Investors iShares.com

Best Banking Website

2005 Sainsburysbank.co.uk

2004 HSBC Card Services HK

2003 Deutsche Bank Global Cash Management

Best Brokerage Website

2005 A Defining Year: Charles Schwab

2004 Strong Financial

2003 Strong Financial Corporation

Best Credit Union Website

2005 America First Credit Union

2004 APCI Federal Credit Union

2003 U.S. Central Credit Union

Best Insurance Website

2005 Medical Mutual - Ohio's get Well Card

2004 Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey Website

2003 Empire BlueCross BlueShield Website

A complete list of past winners can be found at http://financial.webaward.org

Financial services Web site wishing to have their Web sites evaluated against the ISAR Index and be considered for a WebAward, which can help boost a Web site’s credibility and marketing efforts, can nominate their site at http://www.webawards2006.org.

“Of course, as in every industry, there are financial services Web sites that stand out and others that don’t make the grade,” concluded Rice. “Our goal has always been to be more than just a popularity or beauty contest that rewards brand names and good design. Instead, this ISAR study is designed to return some value to every entrant with input as to what Internet professionals should strive for in their Web site development efforts in an objective, empirical and constructive way.”

About the WebAwards

The 10th annual international WebAwards competition sets the standard of excellence in 96 industry categories by evaluating Web sites and defining benchmarks based on the seven essential criteria of successful Web site development. The goal of the Web Marketing Association, sponsor of the WebAwards, is to provide a forum to recognize the people and organizations responsible for developing some of the most effective Web sites on the Internet today. Entrants benefit from a Web site assessment by a professional judging panel and the marketing opportunities presented to an award-winning Web site. For more information, visit http://www.webawards2006.org.

Note to Editors: If you would like to receive a chart comparing two or more of the industries within the financial services-related categories within the 2006 ISAR Study, please contact William Rice

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William Rice