December 13, 2018 Webranking | News

Increasing complexity on European websites

 By Timmy Fredriksson

The corporate websites of the 500 largest companies in Europe have been ranked to see how well they meet the demands of the capital market and jobseekers. The research shows that detailed and transparent information from the companies is missing, and that the complexity of corporate websites is increasing.

Details are missing, and websites are becoming complex

A trend that is clear regarding the European corporate websites is that the overall basic information is in place, but the details are missing. Presenting numbers, with history and visual aid such as graphs and infographics, is the next step for the European companies to increase their stakeholder fulfilment and improve their transparency and communications towards corporate audiences.

Corporate websites are becoming complex

The backside of presenting a huge amount of content is another trend – corporate websites are becoming very complex. When ranking all the companies in 50 criteria, it is obvious how helpful a clear navigation, using generic labels, is in finding the right information quickly.

Beyond that, the website navigating should be backed up by the safety net that a proper search engine presents, which 83 % of the capital market finds important and which 60 of the 500 ranked companies, i.e. 12%, surprisingly fail to provide at all.

Changes in corporate websites since 2013

Looking back five years to compare the stakeholder fulfilment from 2013 to this year, it’s clear that companies are getting better at presenting the content their stakeholders are looking for. Hence the previously mentioned complexity. The information that have gone down in score are homepages and information about the share. Stakeholders today expect more content from a homepage and companies aren’t keeping up. The same goes for share information. Besides a share graph and dividend information, they want information about share capital development and major shareholders to be able to make a qualified judgment.

On a positive note, we can see that sustainability information is starting to be taken seriously by companies, not only by stakeholders. By being transparent, companies have a lot to gain in this area especially when it comes to seen as responsible corporate citizen.

In the last five years, a lot has been done to the functionality of corporate websites. Not only can we see this regarding features and functionalities such as page speed and security, which both are increasing, but also in press sections.

Average stakeholder fulfilment 2013-2014 and 2018-2019, Europe 500

Chart showing average fulfilment 2013-2014 vs 2018-2019

Source: Webranking by Comprend

European companies getting better at serving the press

Looking back at the results from Webranking by Comprend in 2013, the stakeholder fulfilment regarding press section was at a measly 35%. This year’s number is another story: 54%. European companies are getting better at serving the needs of the capital market, primarily business journalists, and jobseekers. Although press sections has seen a bigger increase in stakeholder fulfilment than other types of information in the past five years, there’s quite a way to go to 100%.

The main gap between what stakeholders want and what the companies provide is within the press release archive. Besides providing an actual archive, features such as proper time stamps, filtering between categories and are missing. The gap becomes even more evident when taking in to account that this is seen as important by stakeholders, primarily business journalists and the capital market audience. By providing this information, companies would be able to greater extent help stakeholders find the information they look for, and in a place where the company themselves can make sure that they own the message.

Out of the 500 companies in the list, Wärtsilä not only receives a full score for their press section, but manages to present in a user-friendly way.

Present the unicorn: sustainability data

Information about sustainability is becoming increasingly more important according to Comprend’s surveys and the European companies knows that this is important to stakeholders: presenting a sustainability strategy is becoming common place amongst the European companies. Having a strategy in place is one thing but backing it up with data, in a user-friendly format, is taking it to another level. Presenting sustainability information in a stand-alone or integrated PDF report is common practice when looking at the results but lifting this data to HTML is less common as only 16% of the companies do this. By lifting the information to a web and user-friendly format, the content will be readable on the individual stakeholders preferred device and the numbers will be searchable.

Snam presents all the wanted sustainability data and more, complemented by graphs for better comprehension.

Corporate citizenship through transparency

Being sustainable as a company isn’t only about environmental and social data. Being mindful and responsible towards operational regions is important. Minding the size of the companies included in this list, many of them operate on an international level. In light of recent years’ revelations, such as the Panama papers, it’s surprising to see that only 10% of the European companies disclose their tax payments for different countries in figures. Regarding their work against corruption, only 33% disclose their actions. In other words, there’s an opportunity to become more transparent for European companies.

Investors are missing goals, both passed and coming

The European companies’ IR pages is on average not faring so well: the average stakeholder fulfilment this year is 29%, a number that has seen only a slight increase the past five years. Considering the importance of the capital market audience for listed companies, this number should be taken seriously.

According to our surveys, one of the most important pieces of content wanted is financial targets and achievements in numbers, which is presented by 15% of the European companies. Disclosing this information would greatly aid investors and analysts in making qualified decisions regarding their potential and already made investments. Especially presenting these numbers, both targets and achievements, with explanations on how to reach them and how they’ve been reached is what is missing. No wonder that IR contacts are highly sought-after in our surveys.

When it comes to investor relations, Eni is the ranked company with the highest score. They provide a wealth of content complemented with visual aid in the relevant places.

Less than 20% present their approach to digitization

A new criterion surveyed by Comprend this year is whether companies present their approach to digitization or not. Basically, are companies presenting their approach to transforming their business when it comes to meeting a digital future. To ensure investors that a company is equipped for the future, this information needs to be in place. According to Comprend’s Capital Market Survey, the average importance for this content was 3.5 / 5. The average fulfilment was at 19% although there are big differences from country to country. While some countries don’t have any companies presenting this information, in the Nordics, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, at least a fourth of the companies present this content. Norway is on top at 40%, closely followed by Germany at 38%.

One company stands out regarding digitization, and that is BASF. The have a full section of their website dedicated to digitization where the concept is linked to their value chain and complemented with infographics for better comprehension.

Top Performers & Climber

This year top three features names familiar to top placements in Webranking by Comprend. Eni, rising from 2nd place last year, is this year’s winner with a score of 93.2 points. The first runner up, Wärtsilä, also climbs the podium a bit further this year and ends up in 2nd place with a score of 92.5 points. Last year’s winner Snam has been pushed down to third place, with a score of 91.3 points.

This year’s climber in the Europe 500 ranking list is Swiss Prime, which saw an increase of 31.4 points from last year.

Top 20 

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RankCompany2018 score 2017 score 
1Eni93.292.4
2Wärtsilä92.592.1
3Snam91.394.2
4Kesko90.389.9
5Terna88.185.0
6Generali85.287.8
7Skanska84.078.8
8Swisscom83.479.2
9Swedish Match80.775.0
10Prysmian80.572.7
11Sonova77.276.9
12BASF76.975.6
13Fortum74.677.7
14Vinci73.167.9
14Repsol73.174.5
14Sika73.177.7
17Orkla72.070.5
17Poste Italiane72.053.0
19Daimler71.760.9
20Telia Company71.554.7

See the full Europe 500 results

Read more about how we select companies  |  More about Webranking 2018-2019

For more information please contact us on webranking@comprend.com or: 

Helena Wennergren

Head of Research

helena.wennergren@comprend.com

+46 70 971 12 10