Which industry sector has the most difficult to use websites?

Between September and December 2009 we ran a poll on the Webcredible website asking the question of which industry sector has the most difficult to use websites? This may be a pretty generalised survey, which didn't focus on specific sites, but the results (which we released yesterday) were interesting nonetheless. This is how they turned out:
  • Retail / ecommerce - 133 votes (13%)
  • Financial services - 164 votes (16%)
  • Local authority / government - 342 votes (34%)
  • Travel - 91 votes (9%)
  • Utilities - 116 votes (12%)
  • News / media companies - 69 votes (7%)
  • Other - 91 votes (9%)
Some of the results may not come as a particular surprise to many. The content focused sites of news and media companies do not tend to need to use the complex checkout processes that other sites use, and given the high levels of competition, travel and retail websites need to be pretty easy to use. However, I would like to focus on the local authority and government sites which caught the brunt of over one third of the vote. It's true that local authority and government websites often have to offer a vast amount more information and functionality than their counterparts in other industries, which can make it more difficult to provide a great user experience, but there are some other reasons why they may have faired badly in this survey. It could be a lack of investment in comparison to say online retail and travel companies, and it also could be put down to the fact that when using local authority and government websites, dropping off and using another site is often not an option (something which is common when poor usability is encountered in ecommerce and travel) so users will have to just grin and bear a poor user experience. There's no doubt that the usability of local council websites is improving, as shown by our most recent local council usability report and although there's still much room for improvement, it's certainly not the only industry sector where this is the case. So, do you agree with the findings? Let us know which what type of websites you find most difficult to use.

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