Local govt websites focus on accessibility, says Sitemorse report

digital services

Sitemorse has released the Q4 Index of websites in the local government sector which shows  the effort many local authorities have put into the systems that allow them to interact with people living in their local areas.

With the web becoming the best way to communicate with the outside world, the UK local government sector takes their websites very seriously, and of all the sectors surveyed, it’s local government that scores highest on accessibility, making sure their websites are open to all, whatever levels of disability.

With a very high score of 9.1 out of a possible ten marks, Torbay Council moves twelve places up our table to
take lead position with the best-working website we benchmarked of 429 in the local government sector this
quarter.

The “English Riviera” council based in Devon, Torbay’s website has the proud boast that it wants to make sure every visitor can access the information or service they require. Our testing would support their claim, and their site rates a 9/10 for accessibility.

The council adopted a social media online participation agenda four years ago and uses all the main platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to support their website and to support an accessible, engaging, cost effective and transparent communications strategy.

Just a fraction behind Torbay, and rising four places in the table this quarter is the website of Rhondda Cynon Taff, second largest council in Wales following the merger of three former Mid-Glamorgan districts in 1996. With a population of nearly a quarter of a million people, the council’s website has a big job to do, and we rated it a score of 9.1/10. The site has gradually been improving in the Sitemorse table over the last three years.

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.

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.”