Business > Efficiency

Better connected releases website performance data for councils

David Bicknell Published 01 February 2016

Results also include ratings on council services concerning rubbish and recycling services


The Better Connected survey of local authority web and digital performance has released data for all councils from its 2015 report.

The survey provides data about the overall performance of council websites and is published on the Better Connected website which includes a page for every UK council providing data from both 2014 and 2015.

Councils can view their ranking for both years (based on a star rating system where four stars denotes a very good site and one star a poor one) as well as whether they passed or failed on individual tasks tested like 'Find out how to vote', 'Apply for council tax reduction', 'Report street lighting failure' and 'Apply for free school meals'.

The testing also includes aspects of usability including sites' search, navigation and A-Z functions, as well as whether they pass or fail in testing on the usability of sites on mobile phones, and their accessibility for disabled people.

The site additionally provides other contextual information for each council, such as population, households, deprivation data, numbers of website visits, and whether the site is mobile friendly or not.

Since 2013, Better Connected results have previously been restricted to around three quarters of councils that subscribe to Socitm Insight. Now, since the programme moved online, it has been decided to make more information generally available as interest in councils' web and digital performance continues to rise.

Results published for the first time for the 111 non-subscribing councils show that five - Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Nottingham City, Richmondshire and Slough - were the top four-star sites when last surveyed.

There are also 20 good, three-star sites and together the three and four-star sites make up 22% of the non-subscriber sample, which compares with 48% of the 'all council' sample recognised as having good or very good sites.

In terms of accessibility for disabled people, 30% of non-subscriber sites pass the Better Connected test (carried out by the Digital Accessibility Centre) against 43% of all UK councils.

The Better Connected team plans to hold a two-day "live" event in Birmingham on May 24 & 25 incorporating a conference and workshop sessions for CIO and digital transformation leads, customer service leads, web managers, service managers and private sector providers.

UK local authorities can see their Better Connected results by visiting the site and choosing from the list of councils.

The survey reports also include ratings on council website services concerning rubbish and recycling services such as 'Find opening times of council tip' (county councils) and 'Report missed bin' (all councils types except counties).

The survey explains that as waste and recycling services are among the most visible services councils run, resident satisfaction levels with local waste management can be a barometer for overall satisfaction with the council.

The Better Connected survey suggests that excellent digital services to support council activity in this area, including good information about the range of recycling options, should be a high priority. Rubbish and recycling is the single most important category for enquiries to council websites, accounting for more than 17% of visits according to data from Socitm's Website Performance service.

The task was tested for all sites on an iPhone 6 Plus mobile phone. Generally county councils perform well on this task, with 78% providing a good or very good service, despite the challenges of presenting information on mobile devices, and involving a map facility.

One council that performed well in all other respects slipped down to two stars because it had not updated information about the closure of one of its facilities. The survey said, "We make no apology for this: failing to update this sort of information will seriously inconvenience any customers who end up making wasted journeys with cars loaded with rubbish."

Recommended county council sites for waste and recycling services include Buckinghamshire, Cumbria, Hampshire, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, and Warwickshire.

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