Study finds b-to-b e-commerce Web sites lag consumer sites

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San Francisco—People using b-to-b e-commerce Web sites accomplish what they set out to do only 58% of the time, compared with a 66% success rate on consumer e-commerce sites, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study, “B2B Website Usability: Design Guidelines for Converting Business Users into Leads and Customers,” was conducted by Nielsen Norman Group, which advises companies on the usability of their Web sites.

“Most b-to-b sites are stuck in the 1990s in their attitude toward user experience,” said Jakob Nielsen, co-founder and principal of Nielsen Norman. “By still designing for themselves rather than for their customers, they place serious barriers in the way of prospects who use the Web to discover companies to put on their short lists.”

According to the study, bad Web site design causes people to downgrade their perception of a company. Notable among the elements of bad design are: incomplete product design, which creates skepticism; overwhelming and convoluted content, which creates confusion; and pushy marketing tactics, which cause annoyance and distrust.

—Matthew Schwartz

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