Redesigned council websites fall short in tests

Fewer than half of the 91 council websites redesigned between April 2016 and March 2017 have achieved the pass mark in Better Connected’s search/navigation/A-Z test and its access from mobiles test.

The analysis combines Better Connected results data with information about council websites that have undergone re-design from the Jumoo Localgov Pagespeedy service, which, as part of a monthly analysis of local authority sites, takes monthly screenshots and makes a manual comparison to detect new sites launched.

A blog post on the Better Connected website says that only 45% of the 91 new sites scored 3 or 4 stars for both tests, compared with 41% of all council websites achieving 3 or 4 stars for the same two tests.

However, six redesigned sites achieved the top ranking of 4 stars overall in Better Connected. All six were also winners in the recent Better Connected Awards. These were sites from Chelmsford City Council, Eden District Council, Harrogate Borough Council, Herefordshire Council, Midlothian Council and Warwick District Council.

Overall, 48 of the 91 redesigned sites, ie 53%, scored 3 & 4 stars overall in Better Connected, compared with 55% of all councils.

In addition, the analysis showed that 39 (43%) of the sites that underwent a redesign in 2016-17 were previously not purposed for access from mobiles. Such sites are hard to use on mobile devices, particularly mobile phones, because much pinching and scrolling and zooming in is required to access information or carry out transactions from a small screen. Most councils are now reporting that more than 50% of visits to their websites are from mobile phones.

Sites not purposed for mobile are inaccessible to some people with disabilities and cannot score above one star in Better Connected. According to this year’s Better Connected, only 44 (11%) of council websites in the whole of the UK remain non-purposed for mobile.

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