2014-04-01 16:12:51 - A high standard of web governance is important for the digital presence of every organisation, but for the huge variety of audiences served by local authority sites, it’s crucial.
Councils in the UK are taking their online sites more and more seriously, as the many millions of users that rely on their services are not slow in getting in touch, should they be unable to get access to vital services.
That’s why the latest Sitemorse Index benchmark of local authority sites is an important measure of how the public sector digital landscape is improving.
This quarter there are some very big moves up the rankings, with the Knowsley and States of Jersey sites zooming more than 100 places each into the top five ranked sites.
Heading the Index is Cornwall Council, which has moved five places up the index with a good overall score of 8.8 out of ten possible marks. The
council’s web team have recently improved the navigation to the site and say it is under constant review, developing and improving all the time, with new features to make it easier for users to find the information they are looking for. According to the council, around 400,000 people visit the site each month, so the work put in to ensure the site is fully operational is appreciated by large numbers of its users.
In second place is the site of Rhondda Cynon Taf, largest council in Wales following the merger of three former Mid-Glamorgan districts in 1996. With a population of nearly a quarter of a million people and nearly 100,000 households, the council’s website has a big job to do, and we rated it a score of 8.8/10, very slightly down on the last quarter of 2013.
It’s been a meteoric rise this time for Knowsley Council site on Merseyside, with a third-place ranking thanks to a score of 8.2/10 and a move up the table of no less than 140 places. Knowsley has recently added online services allowing residents to view council tax and benefits information through a new secure layer of the site.
Slough Borough Council moves up three places into fourth position this time, and States of Jersey is another big riser, moving up 130 places to take fifth position. Jersey residents can use the site to book housing repairs and driving tests, find jobs and access planning registers and library services.
Other big upward movers this time include Fermanagh (up 190), Wakefield (+204), Cambridge (+217), Horsham (+236) and biggest riser Milton Keynes (+305 places to 97th overall).
Why an accessible website is important
The local government sector scores higher than any other audited by Sitemorse in the area of accessibility, with many councils prioritising disabled access to council services for their sites. No less than 14 authorities scored a very creditable 9 out of 10 in this area and 30 councils scored 8/10, one more than in our Q4 2013 Index. Top accessibility performers were Cornwall, Torbay, Lewes, Broxtowe, Tower Hamlets, Vale of Glamorgan, Salford, Woking, Derbyshire, Stroud, South Oxfordshire, Wolverhampton, Wycombe, and Wigan.
Sitemorse commented: The very best websites provide an excellent customer experience to ensure their visitors find just what they are looking for and want to return. Behind the scenes they also have to be compliant with latest web standards and fast-moving legislation, free from links to online risks like malware and ‘phishing’ sites and they should be built in a way to enhance search engine optimisation, to ensure potential customers find them. This applies just as much to the public sector as to the private, and we are always impressed by the effort local authorities in the UK put into improving the quality of their websites, a vital link with the communities they serve.
About the Index
The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any web presence, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.
They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal ‘company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.
• More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website www.sitemorse.com/survey/
• For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com