Hounslow tops index of local government websites

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The London borough of Hounslow has repeated its success of the spring and remains the leader in the Sitemorse Index of local government websites, with Cornwall and the Scottish Border councils close contenders for the top spot.

Other local authorities such as Blaby, Slough, Broxstowe and Craven are moving up the table, with their websites showing significant improvement since the second quarter.

Leading the pack once again this time is the website of the Hounslow authority, with the outstanding score of 9.3 out of a possible ten marks, an improvement on the score which saw it hit the top place in June.

The Hounslow site has been a consistently high performer in the local government Index for the last three years and this success reflects a website that works well, with few errors and a high level of accessibility, something that is now backed up by UK law.

Councillor Pritam Grewal, cabinet member for communications and communities at Hounslow Council, said: “Getting to the top of Sitemorse’s rankings once was great, to do it again is incredible! A reliable, accessible website is crucial to helping us meet the demands of our residents and we are always working to make sure the site meets high standards.

“Just last week we refreshed the site to make it easier for residents to find the information they need, so it’s vital for the site to be available and accessible whenever and wherever residents want.” Councillor Grewal added.

Sitemorse surveys the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors each quarter 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. The full results from this and other recent benchmarks can be seen on our website. Cornwall’s website, with a score of 8.7 out of a possible 10 marks, has risen 14 places in the Index this time. The score also reflects a consistent improvement for the local authority; just four years ago the Cornwall website rated only around 200th in our table of more than 400 local authority sites.

Third placed Scottish Borders Council was perilously near the bottom of our table as recently as 2010, but has consistently improved since and stays in its third place spot from the previous quarter with a score of 8.5/10.

From Scotland to Cornwall; there’s no one area of the UK that corners the market when it comes to the bestperforming websites, and the highest performers this time come from all over the country. The rest of the top ten placed sites, in order, are: Blaby, Leicestershire (7.8), Slough (7.6), Rhondda Cynon Taff (7.6), States of Jersey (7.4), Aberdeen (7.3), Broxtowe, Notts (7.2), and Craven (7.1).

Some volatility in the benchmarks, which involve large numbers of sites, is expected, as organisations score differently for a variety of reasons, for example a new or facelifted website can increases the potential score or a site can drop down the rankings when others improve.

But some websites have seen serious improvement this survey, with one local authority having risen half- way up the table from last quarter’s performance. Top climbers this time include Walsall (+167 to 149th overall), Dover (+171 to 39th place), Sevenoaks (+190 to 188th position), Spelthorne in Staines-upon Thames (+191 to 68th), and Sunderland (+218 to 122nd overall).

Why an accessible website is vital

The local government sector scores higher than any other audited by Sitemorse in the area of accessibility, with many councils prioritising disabled access to council services for their sites. No less than 14 authorities scored a very creditable 9 out of 10 in this area and 29 councils scored 8/10, two more than in our Q2 Index in June. Top accessibility performers were Cornwall, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Broxtowe, Thurrock, Torbay, Tower Hamlets, Vale of Glamorgan, Dover, Highland, Salford, Woking, Derbyshire, Bournemouth and Stroud.

Sitemorse commented: 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.

About the Index

The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an independent benchmark that shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

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