Data about the overall performance of council websites, based on a ranking system where four stars denotes a very good site and one star a poor one, is now available on the new Betterconnected.socitm.net website, where there is a page for every UK council providing data from 2015 and also 2014.
Councils are able to see their overall star ranking for both years, 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‘.
Results of testing about aspects of usability including sites’ search, navigation and A-Z functions are also made clear, as well as whether sites pass or fail in testing about the usability of sites on mobile phones.
Finally, visitors to betterconnected.socim.net can also see if their council passed a test about the accessibility of their site for disabled people, carried out for Better connected by the Digital Accessibility Centre.
The site also provides other contextual information for each council, such as population, households, deprivation data, numbers of website visits, whether the site is mobile friendly or not, and so on.
Since 2013, Better connected results, even headlines, have been restricted to the around three quarters of councils that subscribe to Socitm Insight and provide the funds to make the survey possible. However, since the programme moved online, it has been decided to make more information generally available as interest in councils’ web and digital performance has continued to rise.
Data from the first surveys from the 2015-16 cycle of surveys has been published for all councils, and any visitor to the website can now access ‘all council’ reports from 2015 and 2015-16 surveys. Those published recently include ‘pay parking fine’ and ‘apply for older person’s bus pass’. ‘Find opening times for council tip’ and ‘report missed bin’ are due out w/c 19 January.
Results published for the first time for the 111 non-subscribing councils show that four of them – Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Nottingham City and Slough – were top, 4* sites when last surveyed.
There are 20 good, 3* sites. Together 3 and 4* sites make up 22 percent of the non-subscriber sample, which compares with 48 percent of the ‘all council’ sample recognised as having good or very good sites.
On accessibility for disabled people, 30 percent of non-subscriber sites pass the Better connected test (carried out by the Digital Accessibility Centre) compared with 43 percent of all UK councils.
The Better connected team has also announced Better connected Live, a two day event in Birmingham on 24 and 25 May incorporating conference and workshop sessions for CIO and digital transformation leads, customer service leads, web managers, service managers and private sector providers. Further details will be available soon.
All UK local authorities can now see their Better Connected results by visiting https://www.betterconnected.socitm.net and choosing from the list of councils at https://www.betterconnected.socitm.net/councils. Reports for services like parking or transport and specific tasks under service headings including ‘Find out how to vote’, ‘Apply for council tax reduction’, and ‘Apply for free school meals‘ can be found at https://www.betterconnected.socitm.net/services. Detailed results for each council are available to Socitm Insight subscribers who are logged in to the site.
The next survey reports to be published, expected week commencing 19 January, concern council rubbish and recycling services and are ‘Find opening times of council tip’ (county councils) and ‘Report missed bin’ (all councils types except counties). Information about the Better connected programme and research methodology can be found at https://www.betterconnected.socitm.net/about. Better connected is delivered through a partnership between Socitm and Boilerhouse Media.
Vicky Sargent, Socitm press office
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: 07726 601139