Top 100 Retailers Website Rank listing for September

Of all the retail websites that should be expected to provide the best accessibility to visually impaired people it is the online spectacles retailers but among this group there are some extremely poor performers with Direct Specs among the worst performing websites in the table of 100 retail websites tested this month for The Retail Bulletin.

It is placed in lowly 91st spot with a score of only 1.10 out of 10 with all its pages failing the accessibility testing by Sitemorse. Because none of its 9,000 images include alt text (they are used to describe the pictures on website pages) the site achieved a 100 per cent failure rate on accessibility.

The comprehensive list of 100 sites, which includes not only the largest players but also some of the smaller specialist online merchants, has been created by The Retail Bulletin and specialist website testing company Sitemorse that used its automated testing of the first 125 pages of each retailer’s site to generate a ranked table.

Lawrence Shaw, founder of Sitemorse, says: “Of all the people that should meet the accessibility requirements it is those retailers with a social conscience and those who sell glasses but they don’t seem to perform well at all, which is a pretty short-sighted strategy.”

Dollond & Aitchison and Specsavers also performed poorly on accessibility, which dragged down their overall scores with D&A placed 18th in the table with a score of 5.12 and Specsavers in 24th spot with 4.76.

However, showing the way forward was Vision Express, which scored a respectable 6.56 that gained it fourth place in the table. “If Direct Specs has thousands of failings and the site is unusable to visually impaired people, who must surely make up a fair amount of its customers, then Vision Express would be the place that you’d shop at because it has made a great effort with accessibility,” suggests Shaw.

Another disappointment was last month’s best performer DFS that fell 33 places with a score of 4.0. This compares with 7.78 last month and is a result of the site being hit by the failings of third-party tools (that can include mapping and online surveys).

“The user does not know that these are delivered by third-parties so it reflects badly on the retailers’ business. It shows that it is important for merchants to check their websites not just from the inside,” says Shaw.

Tesco Direct also had a poor month with a fall of 26 places as it suffered from a number of missing images and a serious drop in performance with some pages taking over one minute to respond. Shaw says this can have a huge detrimental effect on a site: “It’s like going into a store and the tills start to break, which then places more pressure on the other checkouts. This then leads to other things failing, which online translates into things not loading onto the page.”

Another struggling site was Goldsmiths that last month fell 18 places and this was followed up this month with a further decline of 24 places to the bottom of the table with a dismal score of only 0.32 out of 10.

One positive story relates to Boots that had for many months been excluded from the testing but this month it joined the table in 72nd place as it removed the ‘assistive’ technology from its site that, among other things, means Google is unable to continuously index a site.

In contrast, for yet another month it has not been possible to score and rank the site of Gap because it continues to be excluded from the table as a result of it either being ‘down’ at the time of testing or because of its reliance on ‘assistive’ technology, which Sitemorse believes breaks the general “rules of accessibility” of internet sites.

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One Response

  1. Great information thanks for getting this out there for people like me to read.

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