Who's top for what in the 2018 Bowen Craggs Index?

Scott Payton looks beyond the overall top-scorers to reveal the world's best companies in specific areas of online corporate communications.
 

Last week we published our latest ranking of the globe's top 30 large companies for online communications – the 2018 Bowen Craggs Index. (See also a Forbes magazine story on the Index results).

To produce this list, we spent thousands of hours analysing the online estates of more than 200 of the biggest multinational companies – and wrote up best practice every time we found it. 

Subscribers to our database can learn from everything we've discovered across eight metrics and 26 sub-metrics. 

But here are the companies that came top in each of the eight key areas that we examine. Interestingly, the very best firms in some aspects of online communications are outside the overall top 30. 

Best for 'construction' (covering navigation; user orientation; web and social media integration; internal search; and web visibility)

Top-scoring company: BP

 BP's global website is most notable for its excellent usability, which comes largely from a refusal to drop left menus. This makes BP’s site much easier to use than most other corporate sites, with no real loss in visual appeal. 

BP's global website is most notable for its excellent usability, which comes largely from a refusal to drop left menus. This makes BP’s site much easier to use than most other corporate sites, with no real loss in visual appeal. 

Best for 'message' (covering strength of the home page; visual impact; internationalism and company information)

Top-scoring company: Maersk

 Maersk's global site continues to set standards in design. It is also editorially rich, with good use of 'stories' to convey key corporate messages. 

Maersk's global site continues to set standards in design. It is also editorially rich, with good use of 'stories' to convey key corporate messages. 

Best for contact provisions

Top-scoring companies: Eni, GSK, Nestlé

 Eni has made an already strong Contacts page stronger through design enhancements and new options for key stakeholder groups. The company's ambitious Ask Now search facility appears to perform well as a substitute for conventional FAQs, though there are caveats. 

Eni has made an already strong Contacts page stronger through design enhancements and new options for key stakeholder groups. The company's ambitious Ask Now search facility appears to perform well as a substitute for conventional FAQs, though there are caveats. 

 GSK - the top company overall in the 2018 Bowen Craggs Index - has a model global 'Contact us' page. It features clear language and comprehensive signposts, including simple but significant links to Facebook and Twitter.

GSK - the top company overall in the 2018 Bowen Craggs Index - has a model global 'Contact us' page. It features clear language and comprehensive signposts, including simple but significant links to Facebook and Twitter.

 Nestlé continues to sharpen its approach to handling stakeholder contact, both on its main website and on social media. Contact options are unusually prominent thanks to boldly colourful signposts throughout the site, signalling openness to dialogue (and perhaps helping to change people's perceptions of a company many people once considered to be secretive). 

Nestlé continues to sharpen its approach to handling stakeholder contact, both on its main website and on social media. Contact options are unusually prominent thanks to boldly colourful signposts throughout the site, signalling openness to dialogue (and perhaps helping to change people's perceptions of a company many people once considered to be secretive). 

Best for 'serving society' (covering corporate governance; service for CSR professionals; and building a reputation for responsibility)

Top-scoring company: Nestlé

 As well as providing invitingly presented, comprehensive governance information and extensive CSR reporting data, Nestlé openly and energetically addresses controversies and criticisms on its global website, most notably via the Ask Nestlé primary section.

As well as providing invitingly presented, comprehensive governance information and extensive CSR reporting data, Nestlé openly and energetically addresses controversies and criticisms on its global website, most notably via the Ask Nestlé primary section.

Best for serving investors 

Top-scoring company: Shell

 Shell's recently redesigned Investors section houses exceptionally rich materials covering not just financial results, but all aspects of the business in which investors and analysts are likely to be interested, from major projects to company strategy. 

Shell's recently redesigned Investors section houses exceptionally rich materials covering not just financial results, but all aspects of the business in which investors and analysts are likely to be interested, from major projects to company strategy. 

Best for serving the media 

Top-scoring company: Starbucks

 Weaknesses elsewhere on Starbucks' online estate pull it significantly short of our overall top 30. But its online provisions for journalists shine. Powerful press release search tools; comprehensive, regularly updated fact sheets; and an exceptionally deep image library are among the stand-out features. 

Weaknesses elsewhere on Starbucks' online estate pull it significantly short of our overall top 30. But its online provisions for journalists shine. Powerful press release search tools; comprehensive, regularly updated fact sheets; and an exceptionally deep image library are among the stand-out features. 

Best for serving jobseekers 

Top-scoring companies: BNP Paribas, Google, GSK, Verizon

 Like Starbucks, BNP Paribas is not in our overall top 30. But it is among the top performers for serving jobseekers. An impressively smooth global job search tool; stylish material that effectively sells the company as workplace; and imaginative use of multimedia are among the highlights. 

Like Starbucks, BNP Paribas is not in our overall top 30. But it is among the top performers for serving jobseekers. An impressively smooth global job search tool; stylish material that effectively sells the company as workplace; and imaginative use of multimedia are among the highlights. 

 Another firm from outside our overall top 30, Google has designed its own job search tool. As one might expect, it's powerful, easy to use and full of clever features.

Another firm from outside our overall top 30, Google has designed its own job search tool. As one might expect, it's powerful, easy to use and full of clever features.

 GSK makes excellent use of employee profiles and stories to show jobseekers what working at the company is like. The company's innovative and welcoming new job finder tool attempts to redefine what the corporate job search can look like - mostly successfully.

GSK makes excellent use of employee profiles and stories to show jobseekers what working at the company is like. The company's innovative and welcoming new job finder tool attempts to redefine what the corporate job search can look like - mostly successfully.

 Verizon's simple but effective job search tool has a useful and unusual browse feature, which offers candidates a variety of ways to find suitable vacancies. Military recruitment material remains another strength, as does a Locations directory. 

Verizon's simple but effective job search tool has a useful and unusual browse feature, which offers candidates a variety of ways to find suitable vacancies. Military recruitment material remains another strength, as does a Locations directory. 

Best for serving customers

Top-scoring company: Microsoft

 Just outside of our overall top 30, Microsoft is the best of them all for serving customers. Indeed, the company's main website site is all about consumer journeys and the home page offers multiple paths to relevant content. Journeys are smooth and integrated, in marked contrast to corporate journeys. Decision-making materials for customers are also strong, from FAQs to videos, case studies and integrated forums. 

Just outside of our overall top 30, Microsoft is the best of them all for serving customers. Indeed, the company's main website site is all about consumer journeys and the home page offers multiple paths to relevant content. Journeys are smooth and integrated, in marked contrast to corporate journeys. Decision-making materials for customers are also strong, from FAQs to videos, case studies and integrated forums. 

- Scott Payton

Please visit our website for full results of the Index of Online Excellence 2018, including commentary, lessons from the leaders, best practice and methodology.