Are there lessons in for council websites?

[caption id="attachment_1141" align="alignright" width="250"] “I am impressed by the great support GOV.UK has received from the top”[/caption]

In an article for Government Computing, John Lamb writes about his views on the government’s new web portal,, which has cost about GBP 18 million so far and into which the government has put much effort – including hiring a blind web developer to ensure it could be used by those with sensory and physical impairments. Lamb believes it is “likely to be a model for the public sector”.

According to Martin Greenwood of the local government IT association Socitm, “I am impressed by the great support GOV.UK has received from the top; it makes a big difference. We don’t have that support in local government… It is too early to say whether GOV.UK has been a success, but the basic principles of being focused on customer needs are the right ones.”

Some initiatives that Lamb has pointed out could be useful for councils who want to update their websites:

  • Site is uncluttered and written in straightforward language
  • Site responds to users’ questions rather than users having to navigate through a lot of text
  • Developers created an app for logging what people might want from the website called ‘needotron’
  • Developers held one-to-one website with users and conducted tests with people on the street
  • Usability experts were asked to review the site

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