THESE DAYS JUST having a website is not good enough. The question is, is the website any good?
According to Glyn Evans, director of business solutions and IT at Birmingham City Council, there are huge variations between councils.
If you want to measure the success of your website or intranet Mr Evans does not suggest counting the number of page impressions - that's the number of times a page is accessed.
'Because you can often get a lot if people can't find what they want and end up wandering around the site trying to find it. So a large number of impressions can indicate a bad site,' he says.
'It's better to monitor the number of visitors. Is it growing? Is it continuing to grow? Is it levelling off?' he adds.
The most important way to gauge success is to get feedback from users, advises Mr Evans, either as a link on the bottom of a page, or a pop-up survey as people are leaving the site.
How close is your council to getting 100% of its services online. 'Are you adding interactions each month as you reach 2005 [the year e-government targets need to be met], or have you ground to a halt?' he says.
Another golden rule is to keep your website updated. Many councils will have web pages running into the tens of thousands, so it is vital to devolve responsibility for individual sections.
Remember that the most successful websites are those that are user friendly. Get an A-Z guide that is cross-referenced. And, whatever you do, do not force the public to use your own language. Someone wanting to pay a bill, for example, may not know they need the 'creditors' site'.