Socitm reports 11% rise in top-performing council websites

OVER HALF of council websites provide good or very good experience for users, up 11% on 2015-16, according to new research.

Socitm's Better Connected research programme tested 416 local authority websites over the last six months. The tests looked at four service-based tasks, such as applying for a resident's parking permit or requesting a care assessment; the quality of user experience when accessed via a mobile phone; the quality and function of sites' navigation, search and A-Z facilities; and the accessibility of sites to people with disabilities, including those using assistive technologies.

Thirty-six local authorities, 9% of the total, achieved the top four-star rating denoting a very good user experience. Another 190 or 46% received a three-star rating.

Four-star sites included councils from across the UK, ranging from large county councils to shire districts, London boroughs, metropolitan districts and rural councils.  

The proportion of sites providing a very good or good user experience was up by 11% compared with last year.

A total of 140 sites received a two-star rating, denoting unsatisfactory performance, while 46 (11%) were given one star.

Of 91 council websites identified as having undergone significant redesign in the year since Better Connected was last completed, only seven qualified for the four-star list. Only slightly more than half passed the test by achieving three or four stars. Socitm said this illustrates that delivering a quality website takes much more than a visual makeover and new site architecture.

Fifty councils have been selected by Better Connected to be in the running for awards to be presented at the Connected Local Government Live event in Birmingham on 28 June. Categories will include best council of each type, best for usability aspects and best for service areas such as waste and recycling, social care and planning and building control.