The Index of Online Excellence: Who’s top for construction, message and contact provisions?

Scott Payton looks deeper into our annual ranking of the world’s best companies for digital corporate communications to highlight the best online estates for navigation, visual impact and other areas. 

Earlier this month, we looked at the world’s best companies at serving investors, journalists, jobseekers and other key audience groups via their online channels. All this was drawn from our 2019 Index of Online Excellence, which was published in June.

Here are the companies that were the top performers in some of the other key areas that we evaluate in the Index:

Best for navigation and user orientation

Top-scoring company: Bayer (27 points out of a maximum of 32)

Runners up: Unilever, GSK, Eni, BAT, NXP (26/32)

The Bayer web estate has undergone a refresh recently – and, unusually among redesigned corporate sites, has managed to retain highly effective usability with the updated look and feel. The keys to this are a well-implemented drop-down menu, left menus within sections, a common utility menu across its wide federation of separate sites, and vigorous use of right links to connect the estate.

The Bayer web estate has undergone a refresh recently – and, unusually among redesigned corporate sites, has managed to retain highly effective usability with the updated look and feel. The keys to this are a well-implemented drop-down menu, left menus within sections, a common utility menu across its wide federation of separate sites, and vigorous use of right links to connect the estate.

Best for online estate integration

Top-scoring company: GSK (15 points out of a maximum of 16)

Runners up: Unilever, Nestlé, Sanofi (14/16)

GSK's compact, multi-level country-sites menu works well as a hub for the company's country-based web estate. Social media signposts are conventionally handled, and the company has made some useful improvements in relation to country-based social signposts.

GSK's compact, multi-level country-sites menu works well as a hub for the company's country-based web estate. Social media signposts are conventionally handled, and the company has made some useful improvements in relation to country-based social signposts.

Strongest home page and visual design

 Top-scoring company: AXA (22 points out of a maximum of 24)

Runners up: Nestlé, Unilever, Verizon, (21/24)

The new AXA group website is an exceptionally good example of corporate website design. The copious use of dramatic, documentary-style imagery is particularly well done. But subtler effects are also impactful, lending a polished sheen to the total visual experience.

The new AXA group website is an exceptionally good example of corporate website design. The copious use of dramatic, documentary-style imagery is particularly well done. But subtler effects are also impactful, lending a polished sheen to the total visual experience.

Best for company information and internationalism

Top-scoring company: Nestlé (22 points out of a maximum of 24)

Runners up: BP, Roche (21 points out of a maximum of 24)

Nestlé offers a great deal of good information on nestle.com about the company - what it does, how it is managed, its purpose and so on. History is very well covered (including several innovative features, such as a customisable timeline, ‘Your life in food’), and the main history timeline is now more engaging after a redesign. Nestlé also acts convincingly like a company with an international mindset, interested in engaging with a genuinely global stakeholder base. The main corporate site is in English only, but with much key information translated into relevant other languages. There is clear evidence of communication between the corporate centre and country site editors; indeed, content sharing between these sites appears to be stronger than ever after the estate-wide redesign.

Nestlé offers a great deal of good information on nestle.com about the company - what it does, how it is managed, its purpose and so on. History is very well covered (including several innovative features, such as a customisable timeline, ‘Your life in food’), and the main history timeline is now more engaging after a redesign. Nestlé also acts convincingly like a company with an international mindset, interested in engaging with a genuinely global stakeholder base. The main corporate site is in English only, but with much key information translated into relevant other languages. There is clear evidence of communication between the corporate centre and country site editors; indeed, content sharing between these sites appears to be stronger than ever after the estate-wide redesign.

Best for contact provisions

Top-scoring companies: GSK and Eni (11 points out of a maximum of 12)

Runners up: Nestlé, ING, HSBC, Novo Nordisk, AXA, Vinci, Merck, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, General Electric (10/12)

GSK's global ‘Contact us’ page is a model approach. It features clear language and comprehensive signposts, including simple but significant links to Facebook and Twitter.

GSK's global ‘Contact us’ page is a model approach. It features clear language and comprehensive signposts, including simple but significant links to Facebook and Twitter.

Eni's contact page is welcoming and transparent, with clearly signposted direct contact options for a variety of stakeholders.

Eni's contact page is welcoming and transparent, with clearly signposted direct contact options for a variety of stakeholders.

For full results and analysis and a free Index publication, visit our website.

The Bowen Craggs Database is the engine that drives the Index of Online Excellence, with detailed scoring and analysis for more than 100 global companies and best practice from the top performers.