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Corporate Web Communication - Ryanair.Com

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By sentism
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Master in International Business, Intake 7 London

Corporate Web Communications http://www.ryanair.com Martin Sentis

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

Table of content
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................. 3 BUSINESS OBJECTIVES AND BUSINESS MODELS ............................................................................... 3 Presence ........................................................................................................................................ 3 Pricing ........................................................................................................................................... 3 Revenue......................................................................................................................................... 3 Exchange type ............................................................................................................................... 4 How does the Internet add value? ................................................................................................ 4 Rappa’s business model ................................................................................................................ 4 AUDIENCE PROFILE ........................................................................................................................... 5 WEB EVALUATION............................................................................................................................. 6 The content ................................................................................................................................... 6 Navigation Design ............................................................................................................................. 7 Presentation Design: ..................................................................................................................... 8 Accessibility: .................................................................................................................................. 8 SEO/Visibility & Traffic Generation: .............................................................................................. 9 COMPETITOR ANALYSIS .................................................................................................................. 10 SUMMARY AND OVERALL ASSESSMENT......................................................................................... 11 Appendices: .................................................................................................................................... 12 Appendix 1: The 5 porter’s analysis ............................................................................................ 12 Appendix 2: The feng-gui Heatmap analysis .............................................................................. 12 Appendix 3: Comparisons of the errors of ryanair.com and easyjet.com ................................... 13 Appendix 4: Comparisons of the content-types by Size and Hosts for ryanair.com and easyjet.com........................................................................................................................................ 13 Appendix 5: The number of pages indexed for ryanair.com and easyjet.com .............................. 14 Appendix 6: The navigations bars ............................................................................................... 14 Appendix 6: The first part of the code of ryanair.com ................................................................ 14 References : .................................................................................................................................... 15

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

INTRODUCTION
Ryanair was founded in 1985 and the airline has been characterized by rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the aviation industry in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low-cost business model. Today, Ryanair is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, the 2nd-largest airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers and the largest in the world in terms of international passenger numbers. I choose ryanair because, as it is a very successful but polemical company that operates mostly online through its websites. In this report I’ll try to assess the website ryanair.com through 5 steps: Business model analysis, audience profile, web evaluation, competitors analysis and overall assessment.

BUSINESS OBJECTIVES AND BUSINESS MODELS

Presence
Ryanair wants to become an “online only” company and wants to provide every services they are offering through the web site to their customers. Indeed, we cannot yet consider Ryanair as a “pure player” since it may be requested to use the phone to make to changes. Their business model is still “Bricks and clicks”, with an online booking and other value-added system and some off-line services such as telephone sales and changes of bookings by phone, plus Ryanair desks in airports. Even if almost the entire business model is based on digital goods and digital exchange, it is not a pure player.

Pricing
The pricing strategy of Ryanair.com is a complex dynamic time-based pricing. Indeed, if the prices are higher during some peaks, prices depends also on time in some way because The lowest fare is offered into the market first and then prices rise as the departure draws closer and the seats are sold. The general policy would seem to be to sell a number of seats (perhaps 10) at the lowest fare and then increase the price by £10. We cannot consider the prices to be fixed; they change depending on time and demand.

Revenue
The website objective is clear: to sell tickets. If there are many adverts on the pages it is not for the company but a way to gain revenue from other companies. Indeed, if we look closer at the revenue model of ryanair, we can see that 22% is made by “ancillary revenue”, which represents all the revenue from non-ticket sources. There’s 3 type of ancillary revenue : the a la carte features (onboard sales of food and beverages, checking of baggage and excess baggage, assigned seats or better seats such as aisle rows, fees charged for purchases made with credit cards online, early 3

Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B boarding benefits…), the ,Commission-based products (commissions earned by airlines on the sale on the website of hotel accommodations, car rentals and travel insurance) and Frequent flyer programs (The frequent flyer category is defined by the sale of miles or points to program partners such as hotel chains and car rental companies, co-branded credit cards (co-branding), online malls, retailers, and communication services.). We can see here that if Ryanair is providing a service which is to transport someone from a point A to a point B, some parts of the revenue model is based on the website. For the general Business model of the company, we can say that the all strategy is based on selling low costs tickets providing low-end but minimum service and charging for everything more.

Exchange type
Clearly, Ryanair.com uses a B2C type of web site, since they are providing to customer services. It can be considered as well as a B2B type of website, because it is possible to “advertise with them”: companies can directly contact them through the website to ask ryanair.com to advertise for them, on the website, in the planes or on the fight tickets. But the structure of the website is clearly B2C oriented, since the B2B area is something hard to find and isn’t what that appears directly on the website; it is one of many links they have.

How does the Internet add value?
Internet can add value through four basic steps: Search, evaluation, problem solving and transaction. Here, with Ryanair.com, the added value is based mostly on the search process (it saves time rather than going to see companies or call them) and the transactional process (since it is secured, buying on Internet ad value because beyond the time saved, they are providing digital services which is more practical) and the delivery process.

Rappa’s business model
Now, if we look only at Ryanair.com and try to describe its business model through Rappa’s theory, we can see that it is a mix of different business models: a brokerage model since it is a B2C service provider, but also a virtual merchant model (virtual merchant and click and mortar), affiliate model as well because through their website we have direct access to affiliate partners such as booking.com, etc. They are using the banner exchange model, and as we’ve seen with the ancillary revenues; pay-per-click and revenue sharing model. And finally, we can say that the advertising model is also part of their global business model since they are providing spaces for partners such as hertz, visitdenmark.com etc., and since through their web site we can have access to partner’s website such as booking.com, we can consider that ryanair.com is a portal to other websites.

In terms of the underlying business model and the way the website is set, we can see that ryanair.com is trying to provide to the customer everything he may need during its journey, from the samsonite suitcase, to the car or the hotel. The website is trying to retain the customer in a ryanair.com pool where every services can be provided through the website and by ryanair.com or partners. If someone is booking a ticket to go to Ireland for example, hotels and services from Ireland will be proposed to the customer. (Again, we can see that it is a Web 2.0) 4

Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

Finally, to end this final overview about the website, I must say that at least ryanair.com is faithful to the customer. Indeed, they are providing cheap services and the customer can see perceive that seeing the website. It is full of dynamic adverts and the ergonomic is not very cheering, but I’ll discuss that later on. They are not trying to make the customer comfortable and reassure the one who’s going to decide to take a plan as every airplane companies are doing such as the easyjet.com. It is hard to explain why but the ryanair.com seems to be a functional only website whereas easyjet.com tries to look professional and trustful.

AUDIENCE PROFILE
If we look at the information given by alexa.com for the audience profile of ryanair.com, we can see that the audience is composed more by female than male, mostly used by people who graduated from school which means generally upper-middle class and higher in terms of CSP. People using the more the website are people between 25 and 44 years old, with no children. The information that is very useful in terms of marketing concerns the browsing location. Indeed, the population using the website from home is over-represented relatively to the general internet population whereas people browsing from school or home are under-represented. It seems like the users of the websites are working people with no children. In we assume that people using internet at work is for a work purpose, then the profile is customer wanting to go from one point to another and that’s it, it is not a family booking tickets for holidays with a lot of activities. That’s why ryanair.com provides tickets for flights, insurance, cars to rent and links to book a hotel. I think they are meeting the need of their profile, because when it is for work you need insurance and you probably need car to go from the airport to work. Ryanair.com is more emphasising on cars rather than hotels (after choosing your dates and flights you go through two steps which are possibility of insurance and to rent a car before you pay for your tickets) because for work, people aren’t necessary staying the night. But I think that ryanair.com can segment more. Indeed, the car they are proposing doesn’t change whether I am a man or a woman, and if it is true than people are looking for functional cars, men can prefer different types of cars than women.

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

WEB EVALUATION
To evaluate the usability of a website there are many criteria and categories to be analyzed and assessed. I helped myself with various frameworks and tools, such as the “Scanmic” Model framework, the Nielsen usability criteria and others, to help me evaluate critically the ryanair.com website.

The content
To analyze the content of a website we have to bear in mind the global objective of it. Here, it is about selling flight tickets and other services. In their “web design guide” Lynch and Horton outlines four basic elements of a document: Who, What, When and Where. I’ll only use the basis of the 3 first elements. Who is speaking? The author of the website is Ryanair itself and we can clearly see it from the ban below of all the pages. Ryanair gives a lot of information “about them” and possibilities to contact them by phone from many countries, but there’s no easy way (I didn’t find it) to write to them or to call them if the users doesn’t belong to the 30 countries listed. This is an important criterion because people are looking for a reliable link between them and the suppliers to trust them. There are clear copyrights statements. Is the content relevant to the website goal? In other terms, what is provided? First of all, a technical approach is required before analyzing whether the content is relevant and useful: in terms of content provided, images represent 70, 16%, javascript 17, 96%, HTML 8, 51% and CSS 1, 37% (c.f. appendix 4). We can see from now that some improvement is to be made with too much images that can slow down the page load speed process. However, most of the graphics are dynamic images (flashing) used for sales and are in adequation with their low-cost business model. Basically, ryanair.com offers access and information about several services (booking tickets, hotels, rent cars, special event occurring in a specific places, etc...). But where I don’t think the content is relevant is for example the lack of optimal use of Web 2.0: if easyjet.com offers you the possibility to log on so you don’t have to fill again the passport number etc, Ryanair.com doesn’t remember your data whereas they do use cookies to remember your language preference for example, but they don’t use them optimally. Another criticism I can make about the content is very simple: if I want to go from London to Marseille and choose London Luton, they don’t offer alternative explaining that there’s only planes from Stansted to Marseille, whereas easyjet.com has the option of “London (all airports)” in the departure or arrival bar. For the question “When?” I must say that generally, everything is up to date (giving for example news about weather disruption) except some information if we go deeper in the website concerning events. Finally, I must say that something is missing in the content in terms of interactivity: the possibility to exchange with other customer, a C2C platform to share about experiences, because it is a service that needs trust and people want to reassure themselves. But honestly, I think it is a better 6

Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B strategy for them to not have like a forum, when we know that lots of blogs like “I hate Ryanair” are online complaining about this company.

Navigation Design
Navigation can be seen as a road map. The easier it is to read, the better use you have of the website. The structure of the website is very complex. The good point is that there’s a “home” button, or the RYANAIR logo at the bottom on the left which leads you as well to the Home page. There is 2 navigation bars. The first one you see is only about ryanair.com (contacts, questions, timetables, destinations, info, news etc...) and if I navigate on this menu I can easily find out here I am and how to go to other pages. But, there’s another menu that leads you to partner’s websites completely different from ryanair.com (hotels, travel insurance, credit card, villa’s, etc...) and beyond the fact that it is moving the customer away from their website it is uncomfortable for users. For example, if a page opens like that (pop-up window), my mum who is not very confident in surfing, doesn’t understand what happened and how did she get to this completely new page, which is an internal link but opens a new window. As I said, the structure is very complex since the website is very deep. If I go to the “road map’ links (which is very good but I never saw it before), I can choose Marseille, and then another location and I’ll have access to another pages with a menu offering services for London especially (special trips, shopping, nightlife, events but those aren’t very accurate and up-dated). There’s no search engine, for example if I’m looking for tickets from London or To London, I would be a good solution for the customer to write London and after choosing flights from London or For London, or even more services. There’s only a FAQ’s search engine, which can be improved as well. For example, if I type “conact” instead of contact, the search engine doesn’t recognize it and lead me directly to a page where all majors FAQ are written. Another point that I would criticise, is the fact that there are some important information (sales from specifics airports such as Paris, Marseille etc...) are below the fold which Nielsen would not recommend. In terms of clicks needed to book a flight, there are 6 steps or pages to go through and information to fill in some pages. (You go through 8 steps with easyjet.com). This show that the website ryanair.com/bookings, which allows customer to book tickets, is not as bad structured as the home page. Globally, the navigation is very bad, because if through the relatively short purchase process I can understand what was the last step and what is the last step and that if I use a certain menu I can come back to the home page easily, and the rest of the navigation isn’t clear enough. Furthermore, there are more than 7 possibilities in the multiple menus which is way too important. (c.f. appendix 6)

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

Presentation Design:
In terms of space allocation and key information, I think the website is note doing for the best. Indeed, when you first use Ryanair, the first thing you see isn’t related to the booking process. You see first adverts, and then, if you look closer, you find what you were looking for coming on this website(c.f. appendix 2 : the heatmap). The choice of colours and policy isn’t very adapted since you don’t find easily what you were looking for. Adverts are way bigger and occupy much more space than the part where you look for flight tickets. The user is distracted by the advertisings. Spaces between the navigation bars, the options and other elements are too small: the utilization of white spaces can be improved as well. Indeed, there’s too much information and not enough space. In terms of “scannability”, the site can be improved too, paragraphs are too big (more than 6 lines) and doesn’t encourage the user to read, for example in the page “about us”. The website use both static and dynamic content. Actually, even if it is displaying images and no flashes, those images are dynamics making the website alive but for me it more aggressive than cheering. Finally, I would strongly recommend to Ryanair.com to pay attention to its code for the image. Indeed, normally, a good code provides alternative text for the image, but the sitespeedlab analysis revealed that 8 images were without alternative text for the image which means that if the browser or the server has difficulty to display an image, at least the customer knows that in this place, there should be an image. They should also be careful and specify the size of the images they display. The Sitespeedlab report have detected that 7 images had no width and height. On the other hand, The good points of the layout is the consistency of the colors, relative clear headings and the fact that the website behave the same way independently from the browser used.

Accessibility:
The all point of having a website is to attract “target” users, especially for ryanair.com which is almost a pure player. The higher the accessibility is, the better the usability. Benjamin (1996) advises the web site developer to take into consideration 4 elements in terms of accessibility: loading speed, browser compatibility, search facility and the access for disabled people. If I already talked about the browser compatibility: the website is accessible from Google chrome, Firefox, explorer and even the Iphones and also the search facility that doesn’t really make information easier to access in ryanair.com, the access for disabled people (visual impairment and blindness, physical difficulties e.g. inability to use a mouse, photosensitive epilepsy,…) is something to analyze as well. If the access for blind people is difficult to provide, at least it should be doable using only the keyboard which I found to be impossible. As well, dynamic images don’t help the persons sensible to rapid flashes. The loading speed is something very important for a website, because as Nielsen said in 1997, “the users are impatient”. According to a test ran by Sitespeedlab on January the 11 of 2011 8

Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B (http://indeep76.com), ryanair.com has an “excellent site speed, with a good website latency, fast DNS lookup and high page load speed”. According to them, the download speed of the main page was 5.164 sec, with the document size amounted to 369.04 Kb. (7,204 sec for easyjet.com, with a document size of 440.31 Kb). Finally, I must observe a good point which is the 19 foreign languages and the fact that the cookies recognized if you are more comfortable with a certain language. As we’ve seen on the content, the recommendations I can make is first to reduce the number of hosts : the browser needs to resolve 8 hosts to display the site, and only 70% of the content depends on the ryanair server, whereas for easyjet it represents 89,17%( c.f. appendix 4). Beyond the problem of the speed loading the fact of having many hosts that represent an important part of the content displayed is the problem of the security of data given by the user. Then, I would recommend to combine the 26 small images into one and display then via CSS and also to combine the 7 javascripts into one in order to improve the page speed. Or even stop using flashing images because it makes the access for people suffering from epilepsy difficult. Also, they should try to avoid a large number of links on the page. The sitespeedlab analyst website has found 154 links (internal and external) on this page whereas Google recommends keeping the number of links fewer than 100. Finally, they should develop a better access from the keyboard only and try to avoid using more than one per page which can alternate the page load process.

SEO/Visibility & Traffic Generation:
Ryanair.com is ranked 1314 whereas easyjet.com is ranked 1421 according to Alexa.com. 23% of the visitors are coming to the website through search engines, which is relatively good. In terms of page views per users, the trend of the last 3 month is a decrease of 4,2 % ( they are viewing only 2 pages, which is not good if we compare to easyjet.com (the double) and ebay.com for example, with 18 pages viewed). According to the search metrics rapid website, Ryanair.com has 153 internal links and only 1 external links. Concerning the Google page rank, I tried many websites and either they told me that the PR was 0 out of 10 or they didn’t give me the PR. To understand what was happening I tried to find out what are the criteria’s of Google for the PR. I found out that the algorithm was uploaded regularly but then Google first checked on the number of backlinks a website has and the ranks of the websites linking to the website but also the content of the page such as the code, the tags etc. I then checked the compared the numbers of backlinks of easyjet.com (PR7) and Ryanair.com and I realized than ryanair.com has more backlinks (1520000) than easyjet.com (1410000 links) (Source : the website called backlinkcheck.com ). The only coherent possibility is that all the links to Ryanair.com are dead but I don’t think it is possible so I must say that I don’t understand this ranking. Google provides a guideline on how to improve the PR of your website but criteria’s like accuracy, number of page indexed (c.f. appendix 5) and the site and site speed are in favor of Ryanair.com and still, there’s no PR.

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B However, in the search results, the PR is only one out of 100 criteria of Google, and we can see that for keywords like “cheap flights” or “low cost flights” Ryanair.com is top-listed by google.com. I tried to look closer for the keywords tags for example but I couldn’t go further because I saw through the code of the home page that the keywords tags were handled by meta data. I cannot assess the keywords strategy and try to improve it for Ryanair.com, if I don’t have access to the backdoor system. To end this paragraph about the SEO of Ryanair, I submitted the website to a SEO website analyst (SmarViper) and here some reasons they found out to show that the SEO can be improved: - There are still some errors and warning about HTML validation - There are some pages with similar title identical, the same meta description and the same meta in URLs.

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS
I’ve made many comparisons on almost each points of the web evaluation (c.f table below summarizing some facts) with the direct competitor which is easyjet.com through my all paper but I must say that easyjet.com is a better website for me: the number of pages visited on easyjet.cmo, the time spent on the website, the undeniable more pleasant design and the possibility of logging in so that they remember all my data are facts showing that easyjet.com is better structured and designed than ryanair.com.

Ryanair.com Bounce rate Time spent on the web site Page rank Page views per users SEO score widget Traffic rank (alexa) Reach Visitors coming through SE Passengers 2009 41% 2,2 mn N/R or 0 2 63% 1364 0,11 23% 72 millions (Source: Wikipedia and Alexa.com)

Easyjet.com 17% 6 mn 7/10 4 64% 1633 0,08 21% 42,5

But when we look at the figures, and we see that they are almost pure players and that ryanair has more clients than easyjet.com we can ask ourselves if their website is actually less efficient or if they are really suffering from the superiority of easyjet.com. Of course, prices are cheaper, but it is maybe not the only reason. Indeed, ryanair.com is more functional and since its target is person looking for a “functional service”, it is appropriate. Also, I realized that there are more visitors from ryanair.com that previously visited easyjet.com than the contrary, according to alexa.com. Indeed, 10

Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B when a visitor goes to easyjet, 4,75% of the time he goes to ryanair.com after it whereas the contrary isn’t the same. The visitor seems to find more what he wants through ryanair.com rather than easyjet.com. And finally, according to the SEO website analyst (SmartViper), the SEO of ryanair.com is better than easyjet’s.

See in appendix 1 the analysis of the 5 porter’s model for the competitive environment of this industry.

SUMMARY AND OVERALL ASSESSMENT
As I said, I think that the efficiency on the website is not as bad as the website. Many things can be improved and in particularly for the navigation part (problems with the menus opening new windows, too many menus...), and the content provided (problems with the search engine, too much content in some pages, and problems of data exchange with no optimal use of cookies and log in). I think the website can also improve working on the design and can gain some marketshares thanks to a more pleasant and comforting website, keeping the relative simplicity of the process. My grade over 20 for the website itself would be 11. While the website developer made many mistakes that can easily be improved, I cannot give a too low grade because even if prices are cheap, it is functional and correspond to the need of their target. Without this website the company wouldn’t be successful. I do think that can be much more successful with such low prices but still, the website is efficient. Finally, beyond all the recommendations I gave for the” mistakes” and problems in the web evaluation, there’s one suggestion that I can make which is very obvious and would deserve the grade to be lowed : there’s no Ryanair application for iphones, or even a special format for smartphones, which is scandalous I think. The other thing I would recommend to ryanair is to be careful with “on line only” service provided, for example with digital boarding pass. If it facilitates the boarding process for many people, they should propose alternative and possibility to get it at a boarding gate with the reservation reference. Recently (14/01/2011), judges decided that it was forbidden to oblige people to print their boarding pass... (the guardian).

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

Appendices:

Appendix 1: The 5 porter’s analysis

Appendix 2: The feng-gui Heatmap analysis

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

Appendix 3: Comparisons of the errors of ryanair.com and easyjet.com

Appendix 4: Comparisons of the content-types by Size and Hosts for ryanair.com and easyjet.com

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

Appendix 5: The number of pages indexed for ryanair.com and easyjet.com

Appendix 6: The navigations bars

Appendix 6: The first part of the code of ryanair.com

Here we can see that it is impossible to see the keywords used by the website developer.

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Martin Sentis MIB 7 – Group B

References :
Feng- gui website, available at: http://www.feng-gui.com/Default.aspx I Hate ryanair website, available at: http://www.ihateryanair.org/ The guardian, available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/ryanair The Website Survival Checklist, available at: http://www.usabilityinstitute.com/reviews/criteria.htm Page rank website, available at: http://www.pagerank.fr Page rank gratuit website, available at : http://www.pagerank-gratuit.com/ SitespeedLab website, available at: http://www.indeep76.com/ryanair.com/pagespeed/ http://www.indeep76.com/easyjet.de/pagespeed/ Backlink Check website, available at: http://backlinkcheck.com/popular.pl?url1=www.ryanair.com&url2=www.easyjet.com&url3= Alexa website, available at: http://www.alexa.com/search?q=easyjet.com&r=site_siteinfo&p=bigtop http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/ryanair.com SmartViper analyst website, available at: http://www.markosweb.com/www/easyjet.com/ http://www.markosweb.com/www/ryanair.com/#seoscore Nielsen, J. (1997, December). Changes in Web Usability since 1994, Jacob Nielsen’s Alertbox (Online). Available at http://useit.com (access: 1999, Dec 23) Benjamin, B. (1996, August 29). Web Graphics – elements of web design. CNETBuilder.com (online). Available at http://builder.cnet.com/Graphics/design/index.html Identifying the Web usability criteria: The “Scanmic Model”. Research paper No 2001/3, by Shahizan Assan and Feng Li, available at: http://aim.johnkeston.com/im2420/wp0103.pdf

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