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Council websites analysed in SOCITM report

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Council websites have developed from being an interesting distraction to core delivery channels, a report said today.

The Society of IT Management'sBetter connected reviews the last 10 years of council web development. Four councils have achieved excellent site ranking. This is one more than in 2007.

Report highlights

  • 165 sites rated as 'transactional' - up from 121 in 2007

  • Level A accessibility across all sites has dropped to just 10% (14% in 2007)

  • Poor usability continues to let down many online services reliant on third party software (planning, search and library reservations were tested)

  • Too many registration facilities remain insecure and ask for inappropriate data

  • Improvement recorded in use of plain English and site resilience

  • Numbers of unique visitors to council sites increased in 2007 by 10.4% (22.5% in 2006)

  • Only 32% of council answer phone messages refer callers to their websites, a relatively small improvement over the 20% that did so when the test was first run in 2006

Improve access for customers

Report author Martin Greenwood said: "Access to the internet is widespread so debate should centre on encouraging greater levels of take-up of online services and on guiding the customer’s journey easily and quickly to find that key service or piece of information.

"The state of the council website, though critical in that journey, should now be part of a broader strategy of improving customer access across all channels of delivery."

Local Government Delivery Council chair Janet Callender said: "Increasingly, websites are underpinning front line service delivery, improving efficiency and effectiveness, and they provide a window through which an organisation’s culture and attitude towards customer services can be judged. Much, indeed, can be learnt about an organisation by visiting their website."

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