Which Are The Leading UK Interactive Agencies For Web Design?

Jonathan Browne

 I'm pleased to announce that "The Forrester Wave™: UK Interactive Agencies — Web Design Capabilities, Q1 2010", is now available to Forrester clients on the Forrester Web site.

This report is an evaluation of the Web design capabilities of leading UK design agencies: AKQA, Amaze, Detica, EMC Consulting, LBi, Reading Room, Sapient Interactive, VML London, and Wunderman. Putting this together took six months of effort by a hard-working team that included Harley Manning, Angela Beckers, Richard Gans, William Chu and Shelby Catino.  

In our research, we found that Detica and Sapient Interactive led the pack for transaction-led projects, due in large part to the high usability scores earned by the client reference sites they provided for evaluation. AKQA, EMC Consulting, LBi, Reading Room, and Wunderman were Strong Performers for transaction-led projects, with AKQA's exemplary Brand Image Review scores moving it into the Leaders' circle for image-led projects. Rounding out the field, Amaze showed strength in multilingual projects and image-led projects, while VML London earned top scores from both reference clients for the business results it produced. Both agencies came in as Contenders.

All nine vendors in this report have significant market presence and capabilities to service large clients. They are all ranked in the top 25 UK agencies by fee revenue (using data published by New Media Age).

What sets the Wave apart from other industry rankings and awards is the transparent, fact-based evaluation that underpins it. Forrester clients have the ability to look at detailed vendor scorecards and see what the strengths and weaknesses of each agency are.

To gather information on the strength of each vendor's current offering (represented on the vertical axis) and strategy (represented on the horizontal axis), we used the following methods:

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CxPi vs. Stock Performance

Harley Manning

We recently posted the results of a Watermark Consulting study that showed a correlation between Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CxPi) rankings and stock market performance.

We asked our researcher Andrew McInnes to run the numbers again and see whether they held up to close scrutiny. Here’s what he did:

  • Reviewed the 2007 CxPi rankings.
  • Identified the 10 highest-ranked public companies (CXP Leaders) and the 10 lowest-ranked public companies (CXP Laggards). 
  • Calculated the average annual total returns of the Leader group and the Laggard group
  • Compared the results for each group to the  S&P 500 index for years 2007 – 2009.


Andrew’s  analysis confirmed Watermark’s findings: The customer experience leaders consistently outperformed the other two groups; the customer experience laggards consistently fell short.

Does this prove that good customer experience leads to good stock performance (or that the CxPi picks hot stocks)? No. Stock performance relies on many factors, including human irrationality.

However, the correlation does highlight a relationship we all intuitively understand: Companies that treat their customers well perform better than companies that don’t.  (And it sure looks like treating your customers poorly is a very bad idea, especially in an economic downturn.)

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What do you think of our new blogging platform?

Harley Manning

As of 3/10 our new blogging platform is live. It offers many advantages over our older platform including our new "Recommend This Post" functionality.

But I'm not posting in order to sell it to you. I'm lots more interested in hearing what you think! Is it an improvement, more or less the same, or a step backwards? Let us know by clicking the "Add A New Comment" link below.

The Future of Online Customer Experience

Moira Dorsey

New technologies follow a pattern. They start by imitating older technologies before they evolve to their true forms. The first automobiles looked like horseless carriages. It wasn't until the Vintage Era of the 1920's that cars evolved to a form that we'd recognize today with features like front-engines, enclosed cabs, and electric starters. Televisions started off copying radios - they looked more like an armoire with a small screen stuck on the front.

In the process of working on my latest piece of research, it became clear that the Web has followed a similar pattern. Early sites imitated a much older medium - paper. And even though 'web page' still dominates our thinking, online experiences have begun to evolve away from the page-based metaphor. In the next 5 years, the evolution of online experiences toward their true form is about to take off at a much faster rate than in the previous 5 years.

Consider that today's default Web platform - a browser running on a PC - is rapidly giving way to diverse online environments. The types of devices we use to connect to the Web are proliferating. In addition to the growth of netbook adoption, there are new devices like the Chumby and the Energy Joule. Portable devices are rapidly getting more powerful - as a result, the tradeoff between mobility and capability is shrinking. And even as the hardware evolves, the interfaces on the devices we use to connect to the Web are becoming more and more customizable. And the reason any of this matters at all is because consumers are already adopting these technologies.

So what are the implications of these trends? What does it mean for the future of online experiences? At Forrester, we've concluded that the resulting online customer experiences of the future will be:

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Announcing Forrester's Web Site User Experience Review version 8.0!

Adele Sage

A few months ago, I asked for your input on our Web Site Review methodology. Harley Manning, Rich Gans, and I incorporated your feedback, scoured the latest academic and human factors research, and reflected on the past 1300+ reviews we've completed. And the result? The latest and greatest version (version 8.0 to be exact), officially renamed Forrester's Web Site User Experience Review 8.0.

What is it? Forrester's Web Site User Experience Review uncovers flaws that prevent users from accomplishing key goals on Web sites. It's is an expert evaluation, a type of methodology - also known as a heuristic evaluation or scenario review - that was originally developed by Rolf Molich and Jakob Nielsen as a lower-cost alternative to lab-based usability techniques.

How does it work? The review process begins by identifying the target users and their goals on the particular site. Armed with this information, a trained reviewer emulates the user and tries to accomplish specific goals on the site. The experience is then graded against 25 criteria. Scores for each criterion range from -2 (severe failure) to +2 (best practice), so overall scores for completed Web Site User Experience Reviews range from -50 to +50, with +25 representing a passing score.

Here are the 25 criteria:

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Multichannel customer experience: Replacing my Verizon FiOs Router

Harley Manning

Recently I had one of my own customer experiences that shows just how hard it is to get all the elements of a multichannel interaction working right.
 
Here’s some context: Over a year ago I switched from Comcast to Verizon FiOS for my home television service and internet access. So far I’ve been very satisfied with my choice – I like the FiOS product better and the Verizon people I’ve dealt with have been great, especially the woman who signed me up and the guy who installed the service.
 

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Customer Experience Evangelism - A Success Story

Megan Burns

Every week I talk to people who are working tirelessly behind the scenes to help their companies improve the customer experience. Some have the support of senior management, but some don't - they first have to persuade others that focusing on the customer experience will be good for business.

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Designing in a high-resoultion world...help!

Ronald Rogowski

I’m Richard Gans, a Researcher on Forrester’s Customer Experience team.  Ron Rogowski and I just published some research about designing sites to work in a high-resolution world.  What did we find? The good old days of having simple choices for what size screen to optimize your site for are long over.  Now, the majority of screens have surpassed 1024x768 with no single standard resolution in sight.

 

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Assumption Personas (handle with care)

Jonathan Browne

Jon-Browne

[Posted by Jonathan Browne]

About ten years ago, when Forrester was writing some of our early research on effective Web design, we noticed a pattern among leading companies. They told us they were finding it very helpful to use design personas - models of customers based on qualitative research into real customers, but presented as vivid stories about individuals (not segment descriptions). These tools enabled them to stay focused on the needs of their most important customers when designing online experiences.

Since then, design personas have become fairly mainstream design tools in North American companies, and increasingly common in Europe and Japan - not only for Web design, but across all channels. However, the quality of personas varies enormously from company to company. For example, I'm evaluating personas from UK interactive agencies at the moment and although some are clearly well researched, engaging, helpful to designers and believable, others seem to be mere stereotypes.

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Introducing Emotional Experience Design

Ronald Rogowski

Ron-Rogowski  [Posted by Ron Rogowski]

In a world where users approach the Web with ever increasing expectations, a firm's Web site has become critical for building a company’s relationship with its customers. Today, the  Web site is often the first, and sometimes only, place customers interact with a company. Unfortunately, many sties offer lackluster experiences that leave an emotional void.

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