Abstracts: October 30th, 2003

A report by the Society of IT Management and Citizens Advice, the charity representing the national network of Citizens Advice Bureaux concludes that websites are falling short of meeting the needs of those citizens most likely to require information from public service organisations. Websites scrutinised included Department of Trade and Industry, Department for Work and Pensions, NHS and 16 local authorities.The evidence from the research shows that government websites have some way to go before they will be able to fulfill citizens’ needs for information and services in the areas tested. People entering relying on search engines to take them to sources of official information will far too often find themselves led to inappropriate websites if they use everyday language in their search terms, whilst relevant and appropriate sites are ignored. The performance of UKOnline as a signpost to e-government services is disappointing.

Once the right government website is found, its ability to provide the right information and usable services is far from reliable. The ability to access claim forms online is a key aspect of the usefulness and usability of government websites, but the user experience varies widely. Some forms are very easy to download, but others are unnecessarily difficult. Some forms allow you to save them partially completed others do not. And it is clear that many forms have not been redesigned to make them work well on the web.

Published by the Society of IT Management www.socitm.gov.uk