Better connected 2007: a snapshot of local authority websites
Produced by: Socitm Insight
Barking & Dagenham tops the 2007 ‘Better connected’ survey as only local authority website to achieve new ‘excellent’ rating – despite overall improvement in council sites.
Three other sites just miss out - Salford City, Surrey CC and West Lancashire DC by just one failure (accessibility) out of nine criteria set for the new rating. Transactional ('T') sites double from 60 in 2006 to 121 in 2007. Usability is a key problem, despite overall improvement by many other measures. Take-up has increased in the last year by 27%; user satisfaction with council websites remains high, but is declining.
This is our ninth annual survey of all local authority websites (plus others belonging to Socitm Insight subscribers in the public sector). In total, 544 websites have been examined. A team of reviewers carried out a structured survey with 93 questions for local authority websites. This has been supplemented by eight other separate surveys, using our partner organisations. The structure of this report follows the criteria for high-quality local authority websites that develop the ideas that websites should be 'useful, usable and used' (Version 2 of that framework published in Better connected: aiming high, December 2005).
The report combines the old with the new. We have updated the ranking system for the first time since we started in 1999 and have added some new features reflecting the changing world of the internet and the way in which local authority websites are developing.
Part A Today's context
We introduce the key features about the survey, including its purpose, the process we follow, the 'useful, usable and used' framework that we use for assessment and, this year, the updating of our new ranking system. We then ive an overview of national policies and initiatives that will have a strategic impact on the development of websites in the next two to three years.
Part B Overview of this year's results
The first part of the results looks at the national picture in terms of overall rankings, using, for the first time, our updated ranking system and introducing the ranking of excellent sites. This is followed by our usual lists of transactional sites, our Top 20 and other groupings of top local authorities.
Part C This year's results - useful content
We describe the detailed analysis of the results, focusing firstly on content. We report here on four scenarios of typical visitors for information content, and then examine other aspects of content such as currency of information, use of links, provision of services, response to e-mail and the practice of participation.
Part D This year's results - usability
The second stage of the results focuses on ease of use. This covers ease of finding, use of navigational aids such as A to Z lists, search engines and locational data, general navigation, accessibility, readability and, finally, technical resilience. All these points contribute to the usability of a local authority website.
Part E This year's results - usage
Our third perspective is focused on usage. Switching from the product to the customer, we examine different aspects of the demand side, highlighting trends about usage. We provide the latest information about internet access, visitor usage, satisfaction and behaviour, culminating with advice about better promotion.
Part F This year's results - supporting analyses
We also analyse the results from two additional perspectives. Firstly, we focus on the state of government websites in Northern Ireland at the start of a process of public service reform. Secondly, we examine the evidence of joined-up working in two-tier area of England.
Part G The future
Finally, we consider two key challenges for everyone in the coming year. One concerns usability, and the need to ensure a smooth customer journey from start to finish. The other concerns usage, and the need to build a robust performance profile and to engage with service managers.
How did your council do?
The report is supported by detailed information relating to individual councils, which is available to Socitm Insight subscribers. The information comprises spreadsheets, reports, presentations and electronic versions of all printed material:
- A summary of the results of the main survey, together with the supporting surveys
- An index of council references with all references to examples of good practice and entries in top lists, etc
- A summary of the accessibility results from RNIB
- A summary of SiteMorse results on technical performance
- A summary of Hitwise results on market share of take-up
- Usability and accessibility test results from Usability Exchange's panel of users
- A presentation summarises all the key messages (Part 1 .. other parts to follow)
- A 'pdf' version is available of the full report (Separate executve briefing follows later in March)
Last modified: 19th January 2010
Technical supplement (263.44 KB PDF)
Summary of results from the main survey (2.39 MB XLS)
Summary of results from the Northern Ireland survey (188 KB XLS)
Better connected 2007 - Presentation slides (2.51 MB PPT)
Summary of results from the e-mail survey (941.5 KB XLS)
Summary of results from the news value survey (695 KB XLS)
Accessibility assessments from RNIB (3.79 MB XLS)
Results from SiteMorse (3.06 MB XLS)
Results from Hitwise (2.53 MB XLS)
Results from Usability Exchange - Part 1 (102 KB XLS)
Results from Usability Exchange - Part 2 (289 KB XLS)