Comparing the usability of green energy websites

10th November 2009

Green environment imageWorld Usability Day is on 12th Nov 2009 and its focus is on “Designing for a Sustainable World”.  As part of this day, User Vision undertook to evaluate the usability of a number of price comparison websites, to see just how easy or difficult the user experience journey is for those wanting to switch to or compare green energy options.  This evaluation was undertaken as an expert usability review by one of User Vision’s consultants.

The full report highlights a number of the issues found during this review and provides recommendations for improvement.  The four sites evaluated were:

  • Compare the Market
  • Money Supermarket
  • USwitch
  • Tesco Compare


Although every site exhibited some positive design aspects and some unique problems, there were some usability issues that were common across most, if not all the sites:

  • Difficulty in searching specifically for green tariffs – Although all of the sites allowed the user to differentiate green tariffs at some point in the process, with the notable exception of moneysupermarket.com, none of the sites allowed the user to specifically search for green tariffs.  For customers trying to “go green”, this makes the process more complicated.
  • Lack of clear indication of progress – In a relatively complex procedure, like switching energy suppliers, it is essential that the user has a clear view of the entire process, from beginning to end.  Additionally, the user needs to understand where they are in that process, which steps have been successfully completed and how they can move back in the process should they need to alter information.  To varying degrees, all of the sites failed to provide the user with the clarity and flexibility required.
  • Presentation of results could be improved – The user’s goal in this process is to view the different options for green tariffs in order to compare them and choose the most appropriate.  In order to achieve this goal, the information needs to be presented in a simple and clear manner.  However, all sites made this task more difficult for the user by presenting information in a cluttered and/or incoherent manner.
  • Difficulty in comparing tariffs - Once the options have been presented to the user, they need to be able to easily compare the options in order to choose the best one for them.  In order to achieve this, the site must present the information in a consistent manner and provide functionality to allow the user to compare the option like-for-like.   Although the consistency of the information presentation varied between the sites, none of the sites provided the user with a straightforward way to compare like-for-like.

On World Usability Day this analysis will be developed further by giving attendees the chance to test the usability of these websites directly.

Contact us to request a copy of our report.

Their approach is very easy and clear.  They are supportive and give advice and suggestions

Information & E-services Manager, NHS Health Scotland.