Better connected 2011
Produced by: Socitm Insight
Better connected 2011, now the 13th edition, is a comprehensive publication, providing a unique blend of hard facts, informed researcher opinion and constructive advice about the state of local authority websites.
The purpose of Better connected is to identify good practice in the development of local authority websites based on extensive evidence-based research.
This is our 13th annual survey of all local authority websites (plus others belonging to Socitm Insight subscribers in the public sector). In total, 482 websites have been examined. A team of reviewers carried out a structured survey with 136 questions for local authority websites, followed by six shorter surveys on specific topics. This research has been supplemented by eight additional sets of data, supplied by 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 3 of that framework published, September 2009).
Headline results - available to all
The report and supporting files for download appear at the bottom of this page. The file Headline results for public use is available to all, free of charge, providing you are registered on the Socitm website. Use this link to register for free. All other files are restricted to employees of organisations that are paid up subscribers to Socitm Insight and have registered personally on this website.
This year's report
The Main report (236 pages) is available now as an electronic version and as a printed report from 22 March 2011. For subscribers only, there will be a Full results report available by 15 March. This will be an expanded version (280 pages approx) only available electronically.
The Full results report
(280 pages approx) is an expanded version only available electronically. It has the same structure as the Main report, but contains much greater detail in Sections 2, 3 and 4, plus five extra appendices.
Part A - The present - this year's results
Section 1 - Overview of this year's results
We provide the national picture in terms of overall rankings using our star system for ranking sites (one star to four stars). This is followed by our Top 20, our analysis by type of council, our view of improvement trends and, finally, an examination of some of our favourite sites
Section 2 - This year's results - useful content
We describe the detailed analysis of the results, focusing firstly
on content. We report here on the information content about six common
topics that might interest typical visitors, and then examine other
aspects of content such as use of links, currency of information, news
value, provision of services, response to e-mail and the practice of
Section 3 - This year's results - usability
The second stage of the results focuses on ease of use. This covers
use of navigational aids such as A to Z lists, search engines and
locational data, general navigation, accessibility, readability of top
tasks and, finally, technical resilience. All these points contribute to
the usability of a local authority website.
Section 4 - 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 in take-up and visitor feedback. We provide
the latest information about internet access, visitor usage and
satisfaction and advise about better marketing. We conclude with a very interesting case study about the success of online school-related services for parents/carers in England.
Part B - The future - issues to face
Section 5 - National influences on strategic direction
We offer an overview of national policies, initiatives and legislation that will have a strategic impact on the development of websites in the next three to five years.
Section 6 - Striving for a website fit for self-service
Having analysed in detail the current state of council websites and
how they are used, and having also considered the strategic implication
of national policy development, we argue that council websites must
achieve a new level of performance. In planning for website improvement
we recommend three inter-connected themes supported by three pieces of
Section 7 - Connecting with people via social media
Digital media are expanding well beyond the traditional website. Here we investigate how councils are connecting through their websites with all types of people networks using probably the six most common social networking facilities - Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, blogs and LinkedIn.
Section 8 - Connecting with people via neighbourhood sites
We have commissioned a special article based on research, originally
carried out for Capital Ambition, into hundreds of local neighbourhood
sites in London from two experts who have studied their rise and
analysed their impact on relationships with councils.
Section 9 - Conclusions
How did your council do?
We have sent to each fully-paid up local authority subscriber to Socitm Insight more detailed analysis of the results of the accessibility testing supplied by the RNIB. This was sent to the nominated contact, who may well not be the web manager, or even in the same section or directorate. If, as the web manager, or member of the web team, you would like a copy sent direct to you, then e-mail email@example.com and we will send it by return.
Here, subscribers to Socitm Insight can download the summary of the results of the main survey, which also contain for the first time detailed analysis of every topic and theme in the survey. They can also download all supporting material as follows:
- A 'pdf' version is available of both the Main report and the Full results version
- An index of all council references as examples of good practice and entries in top lists, etc
- The accessibility results from RNIB
- A summary of Sitemorse results on technical performance
- Results from Local Directgov for broken links
- A summary of Hitwise results on market share of take-up
- Supporting surveys:
- severe weather
- sample e-mail test,
- phone contacts
- mystery shopping in libraries
- mobile device (iPhone)
- social media
- Results of survey from rest of public sector of other organisations who subscribe to Socitm Insight
- Presentation of key messages (Sections 1, 5 and 6 of main report)
Insight subscribers receive the material free of charge.
One of the key messages in last year's report was the importance
of promoting open data. As an example, like last year, we are publishing
for the first time the results of our assessments (Appendix 1) as open
data on www.socitm.net and make them available for re-use (non-commercially).
The charge for non-Insight subscribers, including Socitm members whose organisations do not subscribe to Insight are given below. More from our flyer.
| Socitm Insight Subscribers
| Non-Insight subscribers - Socitm members
| Non-Insight subscribers - all other organisations
Back copies of the annual survey may be available (subject to stock). Call 01604 497774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Please note that
- the charges are for the printed version of the report which will be available after 22 March 2011
- the supporting spreadsheets are only available to subscribers.
Socitm holds copyright to the content and images on this website and database rights to the structure and relationships of the data.
The Better connected 2011 headline results data is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence which allows sharing and reuse for non-commercial purposes. However, Socitm must be attributed as per the attribution notice below. If you wish to use the information without attribution you must contact us for a licence.
If you do reuse the information, it would be great if you could let us know by e-mailing email@example.com.
In order for people to trace the information back to its source, we require attribution in the following form:
- Use of any data must be accompanied by a hyperlink reading "from Socitm Insight" and linking to www.socitm.net/betterconnected.
- If you are making the information available via your own API ,you need to make sure your users comply with these conditions.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to request additional data or wish to vary the licence terms.
Socitm is based in England and these terms are subject to English law and to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.
Last modified: 30th August 2011
All Better connected 2011 files (13.58 MB ZIP)
Main report (9.32 MB PDF)
Accessibility by RNIB (2.96 MB XLS)
Email test (217.6 KB XLSX)
Hitwise all councils (191.77 KB XLSX)
Hitwise by type, country and region (139.31 KB XLSX)
Index of references (109.87 KB XLSX)
Local Directgov links (123.62 KB XLSX)
Main survey results (3.6 MB XLSX)
Mobile device survey (70.58 KB XLSX)
Mystery shopping in six libraries (113.5 KB XLS)
NI water shortage survey (14.22 KB XLSX)
Non-local authorities (141.5 KB XLS)
Phone contacts survey (177.5 KB XLS)
Severe weather survey (184.81 KB XLSX)
Sitemorse (283.94 KB XLSX)
Social media survey (489.5 KB XLS)
Presentation of key messages (2.07 MB PPTX)
Full results report (10.94 MB PDF)