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The Web's Most Consumer-Friendly Sites

Sara Goo

Which companies and industries have the best Web sites? According to a new study out today by the University of Michigan's American Consumer Satisfaction Index, the browsing public loves e-commerce sites like Amazon.com but is less pleased with the offerings from the travel industry, like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz.

The study comes up with its results through a survey of customers who are asked about Web sites they already use. Interestingly enough, barnesandnoble.com topped the e-commerce list, above Amazon and eBay.

The report suggests e-commerce firms that are specifically focused on one product do better. Online stores like eBay and Amazon, that cater to the masses, have more people to please among more categories. On a scale of 100, eBay scored 80, a 1 percent drop, while Amazon was up 1 percent to a score of 88. Brokerage firms like Charles Schwab and ETrade all did well, scoring in the high 70s.

Why did travel do so poorly? According to Larry Freed, chief executive of ForeSee Results, an online customer satisfaction firm that helped sponsor the survey, there's not much difference in results among Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz. On one hand, airlines and hotels are doing a better job of marketing directly to customers, cutting out the middleman. On the other end, new travel sites like Kayak.com and Sidestep.com are offering more comprehensive travel listings. "They're getting pressure from both sides," Reed said.

So which sites do you love shopping at? Which ones drive you crazy?

By Sara Goo  |  February 20, 2007; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Sara Goo
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Comments

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I hate the ones that aren't Mac-friendly. (You know who you are.)

Posted by: Fairfax | February 20, 2007 8:38 AM

eileenfisher.com is a great site.

BGE is the absolute worst.

Posted by: star11 | February 20, 2007 9:08 AM

One of my favorites is www.liasophia.com/cjparnell. Check it out - great sales every month!!!!

Posted by: cj | February 20, 2007 9:50 AM

Travel sites are generally the poorest, because they are merely an overlay of an industry where prices fluctuate constantly, and pricing policy also fails to be transparent.

Ebay has dramatically improved.

One of the worst remains Cox Communications site. I think this is generally true of most utility companies. Direct competition almost certainly has something to do with it.

Posted by: CPS | February 20, 2007 10:27 AM

Can't stand Verizon's web site.

Posted by: Grr... | February 20, 2007 10:31 AM

Can't stand Verizon's web site.

Posted by: Grr... | February 20, 2007 10:31 AM

One would think that Sallie Mae would have the courtesy to post on its site that it isn't MAC compatible IMHO. After thrashing around on their site for about an hour I gave up and called them. Sure enough you have to have a PC to use the online services.
Nowhere do they give any indication of any limitation of usage.

Posted by: Larry | February 20, 2007 10:41 AM

Grr... is right about Verizon. It is so slow between pages,and hard to navigate. I try to pay my monthly landline phone bill and sometimes it takes a quarter hour. I might give up and double up next month.

Posted by: pimothy | February 20, 2007 10:51 AM

Grr... is right about Verizon. It is so slow between pages,and hard to navigate. I try to pay my monthly landline phone bill and sometimes it takes a quarter hour. I might give up and double up next month.

Posted by: pimothy | February 20, 2007 10:58 AM

Grr... is right about Verizon. It is so slow between pages,and hard to navigate. I try to pay my monthly landline phone bill and sometimes it takes a quarter hour. I might give up and double up next month.

Posted by: pimothy | February 20, 2007 10:58 AM

Obviously your COMMENT site is poor, too: look at all of the repeat postings.

Posted by: Fairfax | February 20, 2007 11:08 AM

awrnet.com\album.html is nice if you like kids.

Posted by: Bill Monroe | February 20, 2007 11:23 AM

Good article but it doesn't really go into WHAT makes a site a good one.

Are people more inclined to rate a site more favorable for a brand they know? or does a good site reinforce that brand even further?

As someone who designs experience, i'd be very interested in hearing what people's takes are.

Posted by: Mike | February 20, 2007 11:40 AM

Good article but it doesn't really go into WHAT makes a site a good one.

Are people more inclined to rate a site more favorable for a brand they know? or does a good site reinforce that brand even further?

As someone who designs experience, i'd be very interested in hearing what people's takes are.

Posted by: Mike | February 20, 2007 11:45 AM

For travel, I really like kayak.com

Posted by: LT | February 20, 2007 11:59 AM

I'm a subscriber to NetFlix and am AMAZED at the pleasant user experience it provides.

It's actually HELPFUL. I love it.

Posted by: Maz | February 20, 2007 12:18 PM

McMaster-Carr (www.mcmaster.com) is simply the best I have seen and I continually point other vendors to this site to learn from them. Their services are fairly specialized (manufacturing/factory supply parts), but their site is easy to use and it is easy to find things among their very large inventory of items. Additionally, the servers are FAST! Clicking through the website is a breeze!

Posted by: Dan | February 20, 2007 12:35 PM

The Home Depot site very poor, considering that this is not a small company with minimal development budget. It is difficult to obtain pricing and search for even basic items. They should have the horsepower to be able to tell you what is available at your local store, or an arrangement where you can have something shipped to your local store for pickup.

Posted by: TAA | February 20, 2007 12:48 PM

For travel, Kayak is the absolute best. I use it everytime. The most unfriendly site I've had the displeasure of using is HSBC's internet banking site. It requires to many passwords to get to the meat of the site, online billpaying and money transfers. Bank of America and ING Direct win handsdown when it comes to online banking. I will be closing my HSBC account as soon as I can remember the 4 passwords (in addition to my ATM PIN) I need to access my money!

Posted by: c-dog | February 20, 2007 12:57 PM

For investments, Fidelity's site stands above all the rest I have tried (and that's a bunch).

For photography gear, B&H photo and Adorama are excellent. Easy to navigate, a great detail of information about products, good reviews from experienced people, and low prices.

Hmm... I have had a lot of difficulty posting this comment on your site. The server response is very slow.

Posted by: JCM in Berkeley | February 20, 2007 1:23 PM

For investments, Fidelity's site stands above all the rest I have tried (and that's a bunch).

For photography gear, B&H photo and Adorama are excellent. Easy to navigate, a great detail of information about products, good reviews from experienced people, and low prices.

Hmm... I have had a lot of difficulty posting this comment on your site. The server response is very slow.

Posted by: JCM in Berkeley | February 20, 2007 1:25 PM

Tripadvisor displays hotel room prices that each of the similar sites gets (Orbitz, Expedia etc.) They usually are similar. Have been using kayak.com more often.
The Bank of America site requires way too many passwords, codes, image IDs. Switched to Wells Fargo -- fast, easy, simple.
As mentioned, for photo, B&H site is super. After AT&T expanded services, their own ATT site makes it difficult to get to their dish TV site, Homezone, for info.
Thanks to the Post for offering so many vehicles and blogs for readers to respond, a site that's way up there. Try to find a way to respond to Consumer Reports online!

Posted by: Larry | February 20, 2007 4:53 PM

I'm a big fan of NetFlix and their ability to provide a friendly user experience, tap into friends' queues (I always forget how to spell that) and give helpful recommendations. For travel, www.kayak.com is great, although I hoped the report would've also included the site www.eurocheapo.com

Posted by: Henry | February 20, 2007 4:54 PM

Tripadvisor displays hotel room prices that each of the similar sites gets (Orbitz, Expedia etc.) They usually are similar. Have been using kayak.com more often.
The Bank of America site requires way too many passwords, codes, image IDs. Switched to Wells Fargo -- fast, easy, simple.
As mentioned, for photo, B&H site is super. After AT&T expanded services, their own ATT site makes it difficult to get to their dish TV site, Homezone, for info.
Thanks to the Post for offering so many vehicles and blogs for readers to respond, a site that's way up there. Try to find a way to respond to Consumer Reports online!

Posted by: Larry | February 20, 2007 4:54 PM

For travel, I actually like Expedia or Orbitz. To me they seem to be much easier and faster to use than kayak where I found that some of the initially posted prices are then not available.
ING direct is great for online banking, with a login process that seems to be both very safe and easy.

Posted by: FWR | February 21, 2007 3:30 AM

The most important aspect is to be able to have an uncluttered Interface, you dont want to confuse the user...the site even if its the likes of amazon.com unfolds according to what the user wants, but it is indeed huge and hence the clutter.

I particularly like the website www.carmaworld.com
Its Focussed, Clean and yet exhaustive...

Posted by: Sonya Sahni | February 21, 2007 9:46 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

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