Hounslow and Enfield have best council website, says new study

[caption id="attachment_1754" align="alignright" width="250"] “The very best websites provide an excellent, error free customer experience”[/caption]

The London boroughs of Hounslow and Enfield have the best websites in the UK local government sector, according to the quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform. Others such as Brent, Merton and Haringey are racing up the table having made significant improvements to their sites.

Previous winners the Vale of Glamorgan and Cornwall councils have dropped down the table, however, a fall of 37 places to 38th position for the Welsh council.

Sitemorse surveys the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors using our automated software, comparing sites across a variety of key criteria of user experience, and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed “Index” results for a decade.

Leading the pack is the website of the Hounslow authority, which has moved from third to top place in the table with the outstanding score of 9.1 out of a possible ten marks – the result reflects a good score on accessibility, something that’s highly valued in the local government website sector.

Councillor Pritam Grewal, cabinet member for communications and communities at Hounslow Council, commented:

It’s great to see our website at the top of Sitemorse’s rankings, which shows we are making the council easier to do business with. We have spent a lot of time making sure the site meets high standards for accessibility and reliability, and constantly encourage feedback from our residents and customers to improve the site wherever we can.

“With more and more people wanting to use online services in a 24/7 world, it’s vital for the site to be available and accessible whenever and wherever residents want.” she added.

Enfield’s website, with a score of 8.5 out of a possible 10 marks, has risen 12 places in the Index since the first quarter of the year. The score also reflects a consistent improvement for the local authority; a year ago, their website rated around 100th in our table, which covers more than 400 local authority sites.

There’s no one area of the UK that corners the market when it comes to the best-performing websites. The rest of the top ten placed sites, in order, are : Scottish Borders (7.8/10, up 15 places), States of Jersey 7.8/10, up 8 places) Wellingborough (7.6/10, up 5 places), Coventry (76./10, up 11 places), Isles of Scilly (7.6/10, up 15 places) Mole Valley (7.5, down three places), Salford (7.5, up seven places) and Aberdeen (7.5, down three places).

A new or facelifted website can increases the potential score or a site can drop down the rankings when others improve but even so, some websites have seen serious improvement this survey, with one local authority having risen three-quarters of the way up the table from last quarter’s performance. Top climbers include Derbyshire’s Amber Valley (+313), South Cambridgeshire (+285), North Ayrshire (+285), West Somerset (+254) and Horsham (+197).

Sadly, websites can fall as well as rise, and council sites dropping down the table this time include Banbridge (-201), Dorset (-218), Swansea (-257), Burnley (-296) and Bexley (-318)

The local government sector scores higher than most on accessibility, with site managers accepting that ensuring that the disabled can access council services is a vital aim for their sites. There were no  ten out of ten scores this time, but no less than 14 authorities scored a very creditable 9 out of 10 in this area and no less than 27 councils scored 8/10. Top accessibility performers were Salford, Aberdeen, Thurrock, Cornwall, Highland, Lewes, Torbay, North Devon, Surrey Heath, Woking, Derbyshire, Stockton-on-Tees, Stroud and Bournemouth.

According to Sitemorse: The very best websites provide an excellent, error free customer experience to ensure their visitors find just what they are looking for and want to return. Behind the scenes they also have to be compliant with latest web standards and fast-moving legislation, free from links to online risks like malware and ‘phishing’ sites and they should be built in a way to enhance search engine optimisation, to ensure potential customers find them. This applies just as much to the public sector as to the private, and we are always impressed by the effort local authorities in the UK put into improving the quality of their websites, a vital link with the communities they serve.

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