Google, Yahoo not so 'user-friendly' in India

Only 20 percent of most popular Web sites visited by Indian surfers are perceived to be user-friendly, a study indicates.

Google and Yahoo may be popular amongst Internet users in India but both Web sites rank low in terms of usability, according to a study released by online research group JuxtConsult.

In a usability study of 121 most frequented local and international Web sites by online users in India, JuxtConsult discovered that only 26--or 20 percent--of the top sites ranked high in its User-Friendliness Index (UFI).

The UFI measures Web sites based on six different usability aspects, including branding, navigation structure and value added features, site design, company and contact information, contact responsiveness and technical parameters. Based on their UFI percentile scores, Web sites are divided into four groups: Best Practice (sites that scored 95 percent or higher), User-Friendly (between 85 and 94 percent), Just About Satisfactory (50 to 84 percent), and Need Definite Improvement (below 50 percent).

Based on JuxtConsult's findings, e-commerce portals were deemed the most user-friendly by Indian surfers and accounted for most of the Web sites listed in the Best Practice and User-Friendly categories. These include banking sites and, as well as online retail portals and

In comparison, most of the free content usage Web sites such as e-mail and social networking sites scored low in terms of user-friendliness. For example, Yahoo, which was touted as one of the most user-friendly sites by usability guru Jakob Nielsen, only managed a score of between 50 and 84 percent with a Just About Satisfactory ranking, despite the popularity of its instant messaging and e-mail service amongst India Internet users.

The study also identified Google as the most heavily utilized English-language search engine in India. However, the search giant could only muster a place in JuxtConsult's Just About Satisfactory category.

Microsoft's MSN portal was also identified to be in need of a usability upgrade. The site garnered a score of less than 50 percent, putting it in the Need Definite Improvement category.

According to JuxtConsult, Web sites that depend on generating revenues directly from their users tend to focus more on user convenience and work toward making their Web sites easier to navigate.