Important changes announced for Better connected, Socitm’s annual survey of all council websites, in 2013
Published Wednesday 25th July 12
Socitm Insight has announced a number of important changes to the way Better connected, its annual survey of all local authority websites, will be run in 2012/13.
While Socitm will continue to survey the sites of all UK councils, results will only be published for those councils that subscribe to Socitm Insight, or have ordered a copy of the report in advance of the start of the survey.
The change will affect the minority of councils that do not subscribe to Socitm Insight, but will not affect the comprehensive nature of the survey, which uses a 'mystery shopping' approach to assess the usefulness and usability of council websites, and scores them on a scale one to four, with four stars being the highest score.
Following practice first introduced in 2011/12, Socitm is also publishing in advance the list of 'top tasks' that the survey plans to cover:
- Apply for a council job
- Object to a planning application
- Find opening times for local swimming pool
- Find out about getting help at home
- Find out about my council
- Reserve library book
- Arrange old bed collection
- Find out opening times for waste recycling centre
- Find out about nursery school places
- Pay parking fine
- Apply for concessionary bus pass
- Find out how to get on the housing list
- Start new business
- Report pothole
Socitm is making it clear, in the information being published about Better connected 2013, that the list of 'top tasks' being covered in the survey should not be interpreted as a recommended list of top tasks for every council. Socitm says that councils should design their websites based on evidence of site usage and local needs, although it is likely that most councils will find a number of the Socitm 'top tasks' featuring in their own lists.
As in the past two years Socitm will also carry out a survey of the quality of the experience of completing at least one task for each council from a mobile device (probably an iPhone). However, in 2012/13, the results will for the first time be built into the process for ranking sites. The tasks most likely to be selected for this test are:
- Report a pothole (single-tier and county councils)
- Arrange old bed collection (shire districts and NI districts)
The 2012/13 survey will start on Sunday 28 October and finish on Saturday 8 December. Following a lengthy period of analysis and evaluation by the Better connected team, the report will be published on Friday 1 March 2013.
Commenting on the changes for the 2012/13 report, Socitm Insight Programme Director Martin Greenwood said: 'We have worked on the transparency of the Better connected process in recent years, and this has been welcomed, according to the feedback we have received from local authority web teams. The discontinuation of our practice of reporting the results of councils that do not contribute to the significant cost of our survey and report is driven by a desire to be fair about the distribution of cost and benefit in these austere times.'
Further information about Better connected 2013 can be found on the Socitm website http://www.socitm.net
Vicky Sargent, Socitm Press Office
Tel: 07726 601 139 email: email@example.com
Martin Greenwood, Programme Manager, Socitm Insight
Tel: 01926 498703 or 07967 383755 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org