A study of twenty top high street retailers shows some welcome improvements in usability standards.

There are clearly still a few issues to be addressed, but Webcredible’s Online High Street report (email required) gives retailers an average score of 67.7%, up from a fairly miserable 57% last year.

WHSmith managed to top the list with a score of 87%, an improvement of 33% on last year’s score, while Topshop was bottom of the pile on 56%, with unclear delivery charges and poor sorting options among the criticisms.

It seems that retailers are dealing with some of the major usability issues; the majority had clear search boxes, displaying of prices, filtering options, and clearer basket and checkout buttons.

Retailers need to be clearer about delivery charges though. As the report points out, customers should be aware of these costs before entering into the checkout process, as this is a big factor in the purchase decision.

Sadly, Accessorise, Argos, H. Samuel, Topshop and Debenhams all make customers enter the checkout before this vital information is finally revealed. The average score is 3.5 out of 5 in this category, but these retailers all score 0 or 1 in this category.

This information should be provided on product pages ideally, or the basket summary at least.

Retailers also come in for criticism for the quality of help in the case of errors, checkout / basket links being hard to spot, and giving customers help (reviews etc) in product selection.

See the report for more…

Related articles:

Study finds fall in etailers’ usability standards

10 things Next.co.uk can do better online

Related research:

User Experience Roundtable Briefing – May 2008