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The UK online gambling industry is worth more than £1.7bn per year, so it’s no wonder that Facebook is trying to get in on the act with its new bingo game.
But which of the main bookmakers are making the most of the lucrative opportunity by offering gamblers the most efficient and user-friendly experience?
QuBit’s industry benchmark evaluates the UK’s top ten betting sites based on monthly page view statistics from Doubleclick Adplanner.
These include 888, William Hill, Betfair, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Bet 365, Skybet, Betfred, Stan James and Coral.
The report looks at the search and social presences of the bookies, as well as an assessment of website usability.
Coral comes out on top of the study while Bet 365 is the worst performer.
Layout and navigation
Most of the bookies greet customers with a landing page that displays special offers and the day’s most popular events. Users then have to navigate through to the section they want using the various tabs and icons.
Betfred was the top performer in this section as it has a clear call-to-action that makes it easy for users to register a new account.
The report says that a homepage with clear CTAs which is well presented and immediately establishes a user’s trust can be important to ensure immediate usability and minimise bounce rates.
Designing a site that is easy to navigate is also crucial for the user experience.
Fly out menus have been proven to be useful for this, as have ‘breadcrumbs’ which allow users to keep track of their location within the site and navigate easily between sub categories. However, none of these practices were utilised by any of the bookmakers.
Betfred, Coral, 888 and Ladbrokes all scored 88% for navigation due to a feature which allows the user to navigate directly to the sub-categories within each sport.
On-site search is a key feature for e-commerce websites as it makes it easier for users to quickly find what they are looking for. Presumably gamblers know what event they want to bet on so an effective search tool is vital for bookies.
Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, William Hill and Betfair provided users with a helpful feature to search bets.
Betfair and Ladbrokes scored 100% in this section, employing a clear CTA and predictive search capabilities.
Choosing your bet
Placing bets is obviously where the money is made so it’s important that bookies make it as easy as possible for their users.
Encouragingly most of them scored well in this section with William Hill coming out on top with 97%, while Paddy Power came bottom with 73%.
William Hill made efforts to ensure that the user could distinguish between each individual bet, which allowed the market to be manipulated into an order to best suit the user and made it easy to switch between different markets in that event.
The function enabled a simple transition from fractions to decimals at the user’s discretion and ensured that the bet slip updated on the same page and showed the stake and potential winnings in real-time.
This is a great feature for gamblers as they are obviously eager to know how much they stand to win.
Registration is more important for bookmakers than for other industries as there are strict laws governing who can place bets.
Even so, sites should encourage conversions by making the process as simple as possible and getting rid of any unnecessary stages.
Compared to other industries, the bookmakers were notably superior in this area. For example, many employed best practices such as form fields being checked for errors in real-time.
Stan James came out top in this section of the benchmark by scoring 100%.
In contrast, the checkout process could be improved on all sites in the report.
While Paddy Power scored 100% in this section there were a large number of bookmakers below 60% - with some scores as low as 50%.
More than £3bn of bets were placed on mobile in 2011, and that figure is only set to increase as smartphones become more prevalent.
QuBit’s report examined how well the sites translated to the mobile device using a standard iPhone browser, as opposed tolooking at specific mobile apps.
All ten brands had mobile optimised sites, with William Hill, Paddy Power, Bet 365 and Skybet all scoring 100% in this section.
Best practices that the sites were judged on include tailoring font and layout to enhance legibility; ensuring that the key CTA is visible above the fold; ensuring that only vertical scrolling is required; making buttons ergonomically friendly and easily tappable; and minimising large, complex images to enhance load speed.