By Marcus Leach

A survey of large-company website owners, published by Magus, a world leader in enterprise website governance and compliance solutions, shows that the error rates on corporate websites are shockingly high.

The survey also indicates that web editors see a sharp correlation between poor online customer experiences and company income.

The study, which surveyed over 200 UK website owners and senior digital decision makers in global companies in November 2011, highlights that the overwhelming majority of organisations are experiencing one or more critical errors.

Only 13% of web owners said they were confident that their websites were error-free. Major issues cited include inconsistent branding (55%), spelling mistakes (46%), poor usability (39%) and accessibility compliance errors (38%).

In fact recent research conducted by Magus among large-company web owners revealed that an estimated 18% of their turnover could be at stake over the issue of poor online customer experiences. To put this in context, a company with a £1bn turnover and a 20% profit margin would be risking around £180,000,000 in lost turnover and £36,000,000 in profit. (These findings are corroborated by an earlier Tealeaf survey, conducted in June 2011, which estimated losses to be as high as 24%.)

The research highlighted the lack of effective governance systems and processes as the major factors affecting website performance. 32% said their company lacked a clear governance strategy and a massive 71% of respondents rated their approach to website quality assurance as unsatisfactory.

This overall dissatisfaction is not all that surprising given that almost three quarters of companies had yet to adopt an enterprise-class approach to website quality management. Surprisingly in this digital era, over a fifth of large companies (22%) rely on manual quality assurance processes to validate their web properties, 28.5% on disconnected toolsets (e.g. spellcheckers, link checkers and accessibility checkers), 23% on platform-specific functionality in their Content Management System (CMS), and 5% did not monitor their websites at all.

“The implications of this survey are clear,” commented Simon Lande, CEO at Magus. “Manual quality assurance processes and disconnected toolsets are simply inadequate to the demands of today’s distributed multi-editor environments, and are putting companies’ reputation and revenue at risk.

"Companies with global web operations need to complement their CMS with a process of enterprise-level quality and compliance monitoring and analysis that will help them get right to the heart of their web operations. This research shows that we’ve still got a long way to go before large companies all ‘get’ web compliance monitoring. Until this lesson is learned they will continue to put significant amounts of revenue and profit at risk.”

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