SHOOTOUT: Day-Timer Planner beats out Franklin

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Eighty-eight percent of the WebScore Panelists would buy Day-Timer's personal organizer over the Franklin Day Planner based on Web site. For this month's Shoot-out we told 100 WebScore Panelists that for the purposes of this project: "You need a new personal organizer. You have narrowed it down to two, the Franklin Day Planner and the Day-Timer Planner. You've decided to base your choice on their Web sites, and"

They were told to consider the sites themselves and evaluate the user interfaces, in terms of ease of access, navigation, quality of graphics and design and anything else they might find interesting.

Site, services, features win hands down

For the site itself, 89 of our panelists prefer Day-Timer's Web site, while 11 prefer Franklin Quest's. Eighty-six panelists preferred Day-Timer's services and features, and 14 preferred Franklin Quest's.

Finally, 88 of the WebScore Panelists would buy a Day-Timer Planner and 11 would buy a Franklin Day Planner. One panelist, who was unable to load the Franklin Quest site, said he would not buy either planner (based on their Web sites), because he could not make a comparison.

Overall, 91 of the respondents selected the same company/product for all three questions.

82 prefer Day-Timer site

Eighty-two WebScore Panelists preferred Day-Timer's Web site, features and services and would buy a Day-Timer Planner. Seven panelists felt the same way about the Franklin Web site, features and services and the Franklin Day Planner.

Nine of our panelists were more ambivalent. One person, who had been using a Franklin Day Planner for years, preferred Day-Timer's site, features and services, but still remained loyal to his Franklin Day Planner.

Two panelists, who liked the Franklin Web site, features and services, said they would buy a Day-Timer Planner based on the planner's design. They thought the Day-Timer Planner better suited their needs.

Three of our respondents liked Day-Timer's site, but preferred Franklin Quest's site content and said they would buy the Franklin Day Planner. Still, they said they much preferred the ease of access and navigation of the Day-Timer site.

One, a design student, said, "Very attractive and clever design using the Day-Timer pages to organize the site."

Two panelists liked Day-Timer's Web site, Franklin Quest's features and services and said they would buy a Day-Timer Planner. One panelist liked the fact that Day-Timer had a demonstration version, although he thought the information on the Franklin Quest site was better. The other's choice was based on his frustration with the difficulty of finding the information on the Franklin Quest site.

Finally, two panelists liked the Franklin Quest site, preferred the features and services on the Day-Timer site and would buy a Day-Timer planner, based on comparing the two sites. Both said they felt the design of the Franklin Quest site seemed more professional.

Price-based reasons

Both also chose the features of the Day-Timer site for price-based reasons. One liked the online order form, while the other said, "The Day-Timer site actually displays organizing packages and features with the costs that the Franklin Quest site seems to be lacking."

The most consistently mentioned aspect of either site was navigation. Download speed was No. 2. Nearly every panelist had difficulty either downloading or navigating through the Franklin Quest site.

"I felt like a mouse in a maze. While both sites use graphics, the loading time with Franklin Quest was incredibly long."

As far as the tone and feel of the sites, the consensus is that the Franklin Quest site is geared more toward professionals, and some people were impressed with that. A more common response, however, was, "I feel Day-Timer was speaking to a larger audience. Franklin Quest's site was boring, for lack of a better description."

A typical remark:

"The Day-Timer site had a welcoming glow to it. The design was warm and gave the impression that it invited me in to look around and browse. Their navigation tools made it easy for me to look for my perfect product. The Franklin site gave me the impression of a salesman throwing me a catalog and walking rudely away, muttering, `This is what we have. Pick one!' "

Lynda Frohman is director of online services for New York-based CLT Research Associates, which offers the WebScore service.

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