Industry Research : Most UK Council Websites Failing to Deliver Good Performance
The majority - 69% - of council websites are failing performance tests, up from 64% recorded last year.
The performance tests demand that sites open within a half-second limit. If they don't improve, found the report by netEvidence, local councils will fail to meet the 'Digital By Default' standards set by government. These stipulate that the digital experience must be so good that service users would prefer to carry out the transaction online rather than by phone, post or in person.
netEvidence's study included 227 UK councils during September this year - of which 156 failed to meet the threshold of good performance for frontline websites.
Designed to find out how users experience a council's web services (for example, how fast a council is responding to them and if they encounter any problems), the survey also found that councils are failing to analyse how their services are being delivered; many rely on external providers with no way to measure users' experiences, says the study.
English county council websites came bottom of the league: 86% (24 out of 28) of them took over half a second to load. However, a Scottish council was the single worst performer, taking over 40 seconds on average to open - more than 122 times slower than the best, Thurrock Unitary Council. Thurrock's site responded in an average of 0.04 seconds.
As a group, Welsh county councils came out on top with only eight out of 22, or 36%, underperforming.
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Richard Thomas, CEO of netEvidence, said that a council's website is effectively its supply chain, linking other digital services, all if which need to be performing well to fulfil a customer's request.
"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," he commented.
Visibility and knowledge of how people experience digital services (currently lacking due to the outsourcing of key parts of the infrastructure) are fundamental to councils achieving the government's aim of making online the preferred form of contact for public services, he concluded.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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