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Some of the UK's leading financial comparison sites need to work hard at improving the user experience on their websites, according to a new study.

According to Webcredible's Future Comparisons white paper (pdf), presentation of search results, and the ability to manipulate and sort was one major area for improvement, while customer trust issues were often not addressed adequately.

The report looks at the five main financial comparison sites in the UK: Moneysupermarket.com, Gocompare.com, Comparethemarket.com, Confused.com, and uSwitch.com.

Webcredible's report points out a decline in the popularity of comparison sites, with Moneysupermarket.com, Gocompare.com, and Confused.com experiencing an average fall of 30% in visitor numbers between January and April this year. The market is also becoming ever more competitive, with newspaper websites such as The Daily Mail setting up comparison services.

Here are some areas where comparison sites can improve:

Presentation of results

Four of the sites present results in columns providing ticks and text to show which areas are covered, and showing as much information as possible for easy comparison, as in this example from Moneysupermarket.com:

Moneysupermarket results page

However, uSwitch provides less information on its results pages, forcing users to click the link for more details, something which slows the process and is likely to frustrate some customers:

uSwitch results pages

Filtering and sorting results pages

The ability to manipulate search results is crucial, as it allows customers to make more sense of results and eliminate the policies they are not interested in to produce a more manageable number.

Moneysupermarket.com's results page fails miserably here, as it offers no options at all to sort or filter, just a compare feature which lets you select up to five policies. With 50+ insurance products on display, sorted only by price, this is asking customers to do a lot of work to find a suitable policy.

Gocompare.com provides filters but doesn't remove irrelevant products from the results page, which isn't helping customers to narrow their choice of polices.

In the example below, I have selected the 'legal assistance' and 'home emergency' filters but it still displays policies that don't match these filters as the first three results, when more relevant policies are displayed further down the page:

Gocompare search filters

Confused.com provides a better example, greying out the policies that don't match the search filters, making it easier for users to find relevant results:

Confused.com search filters

Retrieving quotes

While looking through some of these sites, my quotes timed out, and getting back in to find my details was way too difficult. 

Having spent time entering address details, occupation, the number of rooms in my house and so on for a quote, the last thing I want to do is go back and enter it all again.

Making it easy for customers to go back and retrieve quotes seems an obvious thing to do, but Moneysupermarket.com doesn't even provide an option to retrieve home insurance quotes, while both Comparethemarket and uSwitch required the quote reference number. 

If you happen to have forgotten this, as in this example from uSwitch, then the only option is to start again:

uSwitch retrieve quote

Gocompare.com and Confused.com took a more sensible approach to the problem, asking for personal details which are not likely to be forgotten:

Gocompare retrieve quote

This is a much better approach, and makes it much more likely that customers will buy the policy from the site. Not proving easy options to retrieve quotes places an unnecessary obstacle in front of customers.

Graham Charlton

Published 25 August, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Paul Rouke

Paul Rouke, Founder & CEO at PRWDSmall Business Multi-user

Graham your points on filtering can not be emphasised enough!

Its really surprising that some of these comparison sites haven't implemented highly refined multi-faceted style navigation and product filtering solutions. Its all well the comparison sites promoting the high number of providers you can compare against on their site, but by the very fact of not providing adequate filtering certainly defeats the object of having large numbers to choose from.

A while ago I published a Knol on best practice for multifaceted navigation, and comparison sites where one of the many sites that do/should benefit from much more effective filtering.

If there wasn't as much complexity to some of these financial products then simply providing sort by facilities would satisfy the majority of visitors who are buying on price.

What will be really interesting in the financial comparison site sector is whether these major players begin making big user experience improvements in how visitors can filter out the vast array of products available to them.

over 7 years ago

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Tim Wolfenden

Richard,

I think brand awareness and Google Trends are too entirely different things; but I generally agree that brand awareness of PCS in the UK is still relatively strong.

On your Google Trend chart, you are likely to confuse searches using word like 'direct' and 'line' in the same string.

If you compile results with each company name fully concatenated, it shows some real flux, and a clear drop over the past 9-months (appreciating the fact that Hitwise is a better measure of actual site traffic).

The point is that UK utilities, suppliers and providers are slowly realising that they have to sort out their online strategies - the more they do that, the more competitive they'll become, and thus the weaker the position (relative to what it was 12-18 months ago) PCS's will have over time.  So Webcredibles are right, PCS's really need to focus, a start doing what they should be doing best - providing customers with an excellent online (price) comparison experience.

Regards, Tim

over 7 years ago

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Tania Gi

I dont think these points will work as comparison shopping have many issuse in crewling.

Tania Gi

http://www.xyshop.co.uk

http://www.hotels.xyshop.co.uk

over 7 years ago

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Martin L

Perhaps the main reason for a decline in these sites is simply a slow down in the economy filtering down to everyday people's lives. Tim  You're absolutely correct in your point on Brand vs Trends. I also beleive that the shear size of some of these sites may well cofuse some potential clients too. Reach and traffic analysis is easily measured. The biggest factor right now surely is price?

Ethical Google marketing

over 7 years ago

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