The table above illustrates the assessment conducted by myself, based on the 5 major criteria. As it was concluded in the theoretical part, one of the major focuses of the marketing is customers’ satisfaction. This is quite difficult to measure online. In order to be able to do so, I have conducted a sample survey with sufficient amount of respondents. The questionnaire can be found in the Appendix. I think it is essential to state, that the questionnaire is not aimed to receive and capture a reaction on the interface, making the poll just a measure of the usability, as for measuring that, one also needs assessment of the users’ ability to fulfill their tasks on the website.
Before proceeding to the evaluation of the survey results, several words should be said about the respondents’ profile. All of the respondents, who took part in the survey, are from 18 to 25 years old, both males and females, mainly international students studying abroad. Respondents were asked to visit websites one-at-a-time and choose the most appropriate, according to their own opinion, adjective to characterize the website. There were 24 adjectives listed, more than one were available to be chosen. List of the adjectives was shuffled for every question to avoid “clicking through” responses. The list was as follows:
Offering a website to the public is very much alike with offering a new product. Nevertheless, it is a contribution to the branding of the company itself. The survey supports the assumption that the perception of the website can influence the purchasing decision of a potential client.
As illustrated on the figure below, respondents consider a website to be an influential factor, what makes it a very important part of the marketing online. 28% of the respondents said that visiting the website will influence their decision for sure and 40% replied that it will most surely influence it.
Figure : "May visiting retailor' website influence your purchase decision?"
The next interesting general thing to discover is the correspondence of the website to the perception of the brand itself. In the modern world one may first go online to check out the information about the product he or she is about to purchase, in this case the website may be supporting or contradicting to the already created perception of the brand.
I wanted to find out if the websites of the international retailor companies correspond to the initial brand image respondents already have. As the survey has shown, in general, 44% of the visitors were almost sure the website image corresponds, whereas 32% could not reply this question, as shown on the graphical illustration below.
Figure : "Does your perception of the website correspond to your perception of the brand?"
So, after figuring out the general tendency, there is one more important thing to pay attention to. In the questionnaire, the respondents were given an option to fill in their own opinion on the given website, if the bank of words was not enough to describe their perception. Omitting the response “Never used it”, given by one of the respondents to every single offered website, some of the comments were revealing the attitude very good.
Figure : "Comparison of the websites' characteristics"
The figure above is the illustration to the results of the questionnaire on the attitude to the websites. Though most of the websites share key characteristics, it gives an opportunity to have an insight on the most outstanding, as of the point of view of the respondents, features and forms the general idea of the “ideal” website, again, according to the respondents. So, the “ideal” website of the international retailor company should be of the high quality, organized, simple and user-friendly, nevertheless it should be effective, clear and business-like.
As for the individual characteristics, I will give a quick summary on the evaluation of each of the websites.
Acer website is considered to be simple, organized and user-friendly by majority of the respondents’ votes. Nevertheless, several of them were not satisfied with the overall simplicity. For example:
“It’s comprehensive to a fault. Too many options presented. Its aesthetics are pleasing but the overall layout and design doesn't exactly make it too easy to navigate”
“The colors and the confusing outline make it seem really untrustworthy and cheap. (Needs more strong colors like dark-blue).”
“Clean, clear and concise. Represents the Apple design philosophy”
Nevertheless, some of the comments were negatively describing the design, reflecting on the too big picture in the middle and too small text in the menus. Every detail matters, and taking into consideration the possibility of purchase decision change after visiting a website, it makes it not the least matter to consider. One issue that was mentioned was the lack of a multi-language landing page:
“Considering high Hispanic population and customers worldwide, Apple should consider multi-languages upfront on home page rather than going region wise”
As for the Asus website, the votes split between ordinary and organized characteristics, supported by the good search of products and very well regional distribution network praising comments.
Dell’s main characteristic, according to the visitors was “effective”. The supporting comment to that is:
“A really clean and effective design. No-nonsense approach. Straight to business”
Hewlett-Packard website is considered to be simple, visually appealing and functional.
“All the important options made available and clear from the get-go. Easy to navigate and the overall click-flow is free of hassles. You can easily land up where you want to go.”
Alongside with the positive perception of the website, there is a very strong motive that well organized and understandable website is too simplified and, therefore, boring.
Votes on the Lenovo website have split between distracting, ordinary and usable features. The main reason of confusion was highlighted in the comments:
“Good comparison of models, but no images of products (to see how they look)”
Sony website is considered to be well organized and called by the respondents to be “one of the best-looking websites”:
“Pertinent information and links made easily available, visually pleasing and an accessible interface”
Sony not only earned praise for the pleasant and convenient usability, but also for giving the ability to compare different products:
“Has photos of products from different sides and different color variations.”
The most confusing website for the respondents was one of Toshiba. None of the provided characteristics gained the majority of the votes, allowing getting the main idea of what respondents thought of it.
“Meh. It’s all over the place. Doesn't exactly scream ‘High End Computer Manufacturer’. I'd skip this one.”
This is the perfect illustration of the website’s negative influence on the respondent to the extent of unwillingness to evaluate it. None of the comments left by the visitors were positive, indicating that the overall impression of the website was negative. Another testimony to illustrate it:
“Inconsistent, when choosing product category (e.g. laptop) moves to other web-page http://www.toshibadirect.com/. This is inconvenient if one would like to check products in different divisions (e.g. home, business products, etc.)”
The overall conclusion about the results of the poll can be stated as follows. It is a well-known fact, that the brand is one of the most important things a company should invest in. It works approximately the same as income from the deposit account in the bank, with the only difference that a return from the investment comes in the form of positive long-term attitude of the customers. And if to take into consideration, that brand is having a big influence on the purchasing behavior of the potential client, trust to the brand is very important.
The result of the survey have given a short insight on the behavior of the website visitors, that can be summarized, as positive impact of the website influences not only the one-time purchase decision in most of cases, but also the overall image of the company’s brand.
Websites of the top 8 personal computers producers were taken for the investigation. Due to the lack of information, investigation was conducted in two major steps: personal evaluation according to the criteria discussed in theoretical part and survey conducted among the potential users of those websites. Respondents ranged from 18 to 25 years old, both sexes, majority of international students studying abroad. The main conclusion made according to the results of the survey stated that a website is an influential factor that can potentially change the purchase decision upon visiting.