For over 20 years, our Better Connected service has led the way in measuring and making recommendations on the performance of local authority websites across the United Kingdom. As a result, most local authority websites now achieve high standards of informational and transactional services.
Our new BetterConnected+ service, which is also included in all Corporate member packages as standard, will focus on the statutory requirements generated by the new European Union (EU) Directive on the Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications.
In order to comply with the Directive, local authorities and other public sector organisations will need to rethink their accessibility strategy to monitor the accessibility of their websites and mobile apps, make information from the monitoring available in an accessibility statement, and provide reports to a central authority.
In order to support local authorities in achieving compliance, Socitm and Sitemorse have entered into a partnership to deliver automated assessments of the 125 first visited HTML pages and 10 PDFs on websites and report on their compliance with accessibility standards.
The partnership with Sitemorse benefits Socitm members, as well as the wider public sector digital community. Members will have access to evolving assessment technologies with quicker and independent market insight by those looking from the outside in. Sitemorse is pushing forward on how digital delivery can be made ever more efficient, especially as the need to ‘do more with less’ against a backdrop of embracing continually onerous regulation, including privacy laws, accessibility guidelines to name but two. Members will immediately benefit from the commercial agility of Sitemorse and its partnership with Socitm.
From a Socitm point of view, the areas of subjectivity that Better Connected may have been challenged on previously can be significantly reduced.
Sitemorse has led the way in benchmarking digital across public sectors, being the most recognised continual assessment of digital capability (not just in Local Government, but across Central Government, NHS, Higher Education and other organisations in the UK and worldwide). Sitemorse has been used in various guises within Better Connected stretching back some 15 years.
Socitm’s Director of Policy & Research, Martin Ferguson commented, “The pragmatic approach that Sitemorse applies to standards management, its establishment as the technical leader in digital automation and the sheer scale of data (going back 15 years) makes Sitemorse our ideal partner.”
The practicalities of assessment, reporting like for like.
Sitemorse has completed millions of webpage assessments, and in every case where a site is certified as ‘passed’ via manual checking it has been found to fail A and or A / AA of the WCAG standards when assessed by Sitemorse automation. Automation offers scale and efficiency along with consistency. Perhaps more importantly, in over 90% of cases, sites passing the Sitemorse Automated Accessibility assessment have also scored well on manual reviews. In order to ensure consistent approach, each website will be assessed using the same series of checkpoints, these being applied against 125 pages (the pages visitors see when first entering the site) along with the first 10 PDF documents.
Sitemorse covers a significant (if not the largest) possible number of A, AA and AAA WCAG 2.0/2.1 check points. The assessments assess digital content across all forms of media; HTML, PDF and MSOffice (DOC/XLS/PPT) pages. The service is unique in offering the prioritisation of actions, ensuring resources are focused on the actions that will drive the most significant improvements for the largest numbers of visitors.
Lawrence Shaw, CEO at Sitemorse commented, “Our partnership with Socitm brings together two extremely complementary names – Sitemorse has grown up alongside Socitm, and it’s wonderful to be able to share our technology, data and offer support. This will bring about innovative ideas and solutions to drive down digital cost and improve efficiencies.”