2013-12-06 17:32:43 - Even a brief look at the Sitemorse Q4 Index of websites in the local government sector will show how much effort many local authorities put into the systems that allow them to interact with people living in their local areas.
With the web becoming the best way to communicate with the outside world, the UK local government sector takes their websites very seriously, and of all the sectors we survey, it’s local government that scores highest on accessibility, making sure their websites are open to all, whatever levels of disability.
With a very high score of 9.1 out of a possible ten marks, Torbay Council moves twelve places up our table to take lead position with the best-working website we benchmarked of 429 in the local government sector this quarter.
The “English Riviera” council based in Devon, Torbay’s website has the proud boast that it wants to make sure every visitor can access the information or service they require. Our testing would
support their claim, and their site rates a 9/10 for accessibility.
The council adopted a social media online participation agenda four years ago and uses all the main platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to support their website and to support an accessible, engaging, cost effective and transparent communications strategy.
Sitemorse surveys the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors each quarter using our automated software, comparing sites across a variety of key criteria of user experience, and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed “Index” results for a decade. The full results from this and other recent benchmarks can be seen on our website.
Just a fraction behind Torbay, and rising four places in the table this quarter is the website of Rhondda Cynon Taff, second 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, the council’s website has a big job to do, and we rated it a score of 9.1/10. The site has gradually been improving in the Sitemorse table over the last three years.
Just behind the other two, Scottish Borders retains third place in our Index on a score of 9.0/10.
Other big upward movers in the top 20-rated sites include Wigan, up 126 places, South Kesteven, up 16, Manchester, up 15, North east Lincolnshire, up 50 and North Norfolk, up 61.Biggest climbers overall include Dundee, which has risen 304 places, and Cirencester-based Cotswold District Council, up 302.
Some volatility in our benchmarks, which involve large numbers of sites, is expected, as organisations score differently for a variety of reasons, for example a new or facelifted website can increases the potential score or a site can drop down the rankings when others improve.
Why an accessible website is vital
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 29 councils scored 8/10, two more than in our Q2 Index in June. Top accessibility performers were Cornwall, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Broxtowe, Thurrock, Torbay, Tower Hamlets, Vale of Glamorgan, Dover, Highland, Salford, Woking, Derbyshire, Bournemouth and Stroud.
Sitemorse commented: The very best websites provide an excellent, error free 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.