Preview results of the Society of IT Management’s (Socitm) annual survey of all 433 UK local authority websites show that most of these websites suffer from badly written content and poor integration of third party software, resulting in the council losing out on money. This is because residents should be able to have all their queries satisfied online because this is cheaper for the council rather than dealing with customers on the phone or face-to-face.
The survey, titled Better Connected 2013, is to be published 1st March and was conducted by a team of reviewers who used a questionnaire of 225 questions. It revealed that there is huge variation in the ease of use of websites and finding the right information – for instance, services relating to getting help at home for older people from adult social care services.
According to one reviewer, “I got confused between home care, care homes, home help and then Service Directories. Few councils provide strong descriptions of the service coupled with clear instructions of how to request and carry out an assessment.”
Another complaint was about having to register before being allowed to comment and one reviewer said that “easier to use and more customisable help pages from within the task are needed.”
Yet another issue was raised regarding objecting to a planning application: “I was shocked by the number of councils which did not have information on how to object to a planning application and what are the grounds I can object on. This is an area which can be easily improved with some thought and a few links.”
Socitm has warned that “In harsh economic times, councils must always remember that poor website usability and failed web enquiries cause councils unnecessary cost.”
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