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Internet

Tech firms' sites not up to snuff

The very companies that are helping to develop the Web seem to have forgotten to make their own sites user-friendly, a new study says.

The very companies that are helping to develop the Web seem to have forgotten to make their own sites user-friendly, a new study said.

Silicon Valley corporations that have created Web sites to boost business and provide company information are lacking in key navigation aids that have alienated or confused the audiences they are targeting, said a study titled "Missing Links in Silicon Valley" by market research firm Shelley Taylor & Associates.

Despite advances in technology helping Net development such as new tools, hardware, and software, many of these firms lack guides to help customers, investors, and potential employees get the information they need, the study said.

It added that even though many of these companies have played a pivotal role in developing the Internet, their Web sites lack key features that would facilitate their business efforts.

"Many of these sites are only sheep in wolves' clothing," said the study's author, Shelley Taylor, in a statement. "They look effective at first glance, but they do not provide sufficient content for the audiences they are designed to serve.

"In fact, many do not reflect the business strategies of the companies that create them. The research highlights the disconnect between the boardroom and those responsible for Web design and content," she added.

Given the rate of employee churn in the Valley and tech firms' complaints that they lack enough qualified personnel to fill key positions, one would expect easy access to employment openings on the companies' sites. But the study showed that was not the case, with 25 percent of sites missing employment links on their home pages. Furthermore, 46 percent of these sites lack online applications, the study showed.

In addition, the study concluded that 48 percent of these sites ignored investor needs by not putting an "Investor" link on their home pages, while 70 percent do not include the name of the investor relations contact.

However, not all are at fault. The study applauded some firms for their responsiveness to audience needs, such as Autodesk, Sun Microsystems, and Cisco Systems.