Three new councils join top web performers

23 Apr 15

Canterbury, Cardiff and Cornwall councils have all broken into the top 20 of this year’s ‘Better Connected’ rankings, which rate UK local authorities’ website offerings.

The rankings are drawn up by the public services ICT association Socitm and are based on assessments of customer experience, usability and mobile access of all 407 council websites. Best-performing councils receive a four-star rating, while the weakest earn just one star.

Other top performers in 2014 included: Argyll & Bute; Blaby District Council; East Riding of Yorkshire; Hinckley & Bosworth; Hackney; Kent County Council; and Oxfordshire County Council.

Socitm also examined the performance of council websites that had been redesigned between April and October 2014.

This showed that website redesign was ‘far from a guaranteed route’ to improving the customer experience. However, the report cites East Riding of Yorkshire Council as a good practice case study when planning a new website, one that prioritised customer experience, used design standards and ensured properly skilled people were involved in the redesign.

It said: ‘In our experience, nothing works well without strong governance and the agreement that every team, directorate and service is the specialist in their own field. Having robust procedures ensures that we have the right people involved ... In our view, this is the only effective way to deliver customer engagement and encourage digital first.’

Sites that improved their Better connected ratings after a website redesign, include: Angus; Falkirk; Melton; Wellingborough; and West Lothian. All moved up two rankings from one star to three.

The report notes that the use of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, to access online information was quickly catching up with more traditional forms of web access from desktops and laptops.

However, mobile experience was generally 25% worse than the desktop experience in 2014.

Nearly half (48%) of all councils have implemented a responsive website, which recognises different web browsers. This was up from 26% in 2013. A further 9% offer a mobile site. The report said this left just 43% councils that offer just the desktop layout.

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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