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.