Majority of council websites too slow for government standards

Research by netEvidence suggests around 69% of council websites in the UK are failing the government’s minimum performance standards for response speed and loading times, representing a five point performance dip from last year.

The Government’s Digital by Default policy is designed to encourage council customers to use online facilities over traditional telephone or postal services.

However, the survey by netEvidence suggests that over 150 UK town hall websites are taking more than 0.4 seconds to respond, raising concerns about whether the government’s national speed requirements for digital services are being met.

This year’s figures confirmed that Welsh county councils continued to be the best performing group on average across the UK, however 36% still fail to meet government standards.

In contrast, English counties were found to be the worst performing, with 86% of sites taking over half a second to respond.

UK local authorities are increasing their use of digital services to replace high cost call-centre services but if digital services fail to deliver a good end-to-end experience, it can result in all sorts of problems such as delays in getting benefits or an officer’s inability to resolve a customer’s issue even during face to face meetings,” said Richard Thomas, CEO of netEvidence.

Having outsourced key parts of their infrastructure, many UK councillors and officers, particularly those at a senior level,  now lack any real-time visibility into how these online services are performing and more importantly, what experiences people have when using services. This visibility and knowledge of how people experience digital services is fundamental to achieving the Government’s aim of making it the preferred form of contact for public services.

Thurrock Council website has been named the best website, responding 122 times faster than the country’s slowest performing site. The site falling furthest from government requirements was an unnamed council in Scotland, which was found to be taking over 40 seconds on average to open.

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