Green consumers failed by price comparison sites

Green energy LogoInternet price comparison sites are failing customers who are trying to “go green”, a User Vision survey has found.

The research into four popular sites – Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, USwitch, and Tesco Compare – was carried out to mark this year’s World Usability Day.

The usability consultants, whose clients include the BBC and Emirates Airlines, found that only one of the websites evaluated allowed the user to specifically search for green tariffs.

The four websites also suffered from other usability issues including poor presentation of results, lack of clear indication of progress and difficulty in comparing tariffs.

The findings have implications for the UK’s environmental targets as a majority of shoppers use price comparison sites before they buy. A report by the Office of Fair Trading published in May 2009 found that 60% of UK internet users had consulted such sites in the past 12 months.

User Vision’s Strategic Director Emma Kirk says:

“Price comparison sites can be very influential in users’ purchasing decisions so it was disappointing to find that it is so difficult to search for the best green options.

Successful green energy comparison engines would have to provide the user with a simple way to search for green tariffs, a clear and consistent presentation of meaningful search results, and a straightforward path through the process. These features were not present in the sites we evaluated.”

She adds:

“World Usability Day highlights why it is vital to make the modern world work for us and to ensure that parts of society don’t get left behind by the pace of change or poor design.

This year’s theme is particularly exciting as it’s imperative that we find ways to make it easier to protect our environment.”

The theme of World Usability Day 2009 is Designing for a Sustainable World.

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