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MasterCard International Announces Winners of Usability Excellence Awards; A.G. Edwards and BigDates.com Earn Top Honors in First Competition
[August 24, 2005]

MasterCard International Announces Winners of Usability Excellence Awards; A.G. Edwards and BigDates.com Earn Top Honors in First Competition


ST. LOUIS, Mo. --(Business Wire)-- Aug. 24, 2005 -- MasterCard International today announced that A.G. Edwards and BigDates.com are the winners of MasterCard's first Usability Excellence Awards, created to recognize excellence in web-site usability. The MasterCard Usability Services Team, one of the premier user-centered design groups in the United States, evaluated sites submitted by companies across the country.



Usability - making a web site function intuitively to provide the best experience for the user - is critical to the success of a site. Internet Retailer, a leading e-commerce magazine, predicted that an average of 75 percent of online shoppers would abandon their shopping carts in 2004. That statistic translates to a loss of approximately $63 billion in sales.

Winners were chosen from two categories, e-commerce sites and financial sites, based on seven important principles of web usability: navigation, information architecture, accessibility, error prevention and recovery, writing for the web, support and interface design. The e-commerce category included online stores and payment processing organizations, and the financial category included financial-services sites that offer customers online tools or information, such as those sites offering online banking and bill payment.


The web site for brokerage firm A.G. Edwards, the winner of the financial category, was selected because "the site demonstrates extremely consistent navigation throughout," said Jennifer Ruffino, the Certified Usability Analyst who leads the Usability Services Team at MasterCard and headed up the judging of the entries. "No matter where you are in the site, users can find what they're looking for very easily. Buttons, colors and link labels are all used consistently. The site also features a nice balance of content and links."

"We view our emphasis on usability in our web development as a win-win - for our clients as well as A.G. Edwards," said Mike Flood, Vice President at A.G. Edwards. "We believe that by making it easier for our clients to navigate our web site, they will spend more time learning about what we do best - helping our clients build their nest eggs and plan for their financial future by taking advantage of the many products, services and financial planning tools we have to offer."

BigDates.com, which won in the e-commerce category, is "a shining example of the great combination of design and function," said Ruffino. The site's mission is to not only help people remember important dates like birthdays and anniversaries, but also provide a single stop where users can buy gifts, cards, wrapping paper, and other items needed for those dates. "The site's user has a simple goal - being reminded of important dates - and BigDates.com provides an easy tool to meet this goal successfully. There are many examples of best practices on this site- one that stands out is the realistic way users can create an anniversary date. It shows a match between a real-world goal and the interface used to support it."

In addition, the judges awarded runner-up honors to several other web sites:

-- Drugstore.com - Online store specializing in health and beauty products. Among the features that add to its usability: a "Fast Shop" pop-up tool allowing users to quickly assemble a shopping list.

-- Kayak.com - A travel search engine that combines real-time searches of travel web sites with consumer and professional hotel reviews. Highlights include a very clean, straightforward design and the fact that advertising never diverts the user from the primary task of searching for travel rates.

-- CDUniverse.com - Online retailer offering music, movies and video games. Key usability successes: logical use of quick-link menus for popular functions such as top music downloads.

"This first awards competition has given us the opportunity to share our expertise and honor excellence in usability," said Ruffino. "Usability plays an integral role in providing the best customer service and experience possible for the site's viewers. We enjoyed the opportunity to take an in-depth look at what companies are doing in this regard."

For more information on the Usability Services Team, visit www.mastercard.com/usability or contact Jennifer Ruffino at jennifer_ruffino@mastercard.com or Kara McCombs at kara_mccombs@mastercard.com.

About the Usability Services Team at MasterCard

Payment cards are the currency of choice for online transactions, and consumers want to use them to conduct business online easily and efficiently. The Usability Services Team at MasterCard International was developed to share the company's expertise on creating sites that function intuitively for a better consumer experience. The team helps customers address the design and functionality of interactive properties such as hardware, software, intranet, extranets and external-facing Internet sites. Results include improved product usability, and a better understanding of product design, navigation and interactivity, based on the unique insights into consumers' behaviors witnessed first-hand during evaluations of thousands of consumer experiences. The MasterCard Usability Services Team is located at MasterCard's Global Technology and Operations headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri.

About MasterCard Incorporated

MasterCard Incorporated is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members' credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs. MasterCard, through its principal operating subsidiary, MasterCard International Incorporated, manages a family of well-known, widely accepted payment card brands including MasterCard(R), Maestro(R) and Cirrus(R) and serves financial institutions, consumers and businesses in over 210 countries and territories. The MasterCard award-winning Priceless(R) advertising campaign is now seen in 105 countries and in 48 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. For more information go to www.mastercardinternational.com or refer to the filings of MasterCard Incorporated with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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