Headlines: August 16th, 2005

A survey by the Society of IT Management reveals that most users of council websites find what they are looking for by using Google. Some 25% visit the site because they work for the council and another 18 % guess the address. Only some 20% visit a site because of promotional activity.The survey also showed that an estimated 11.4m visitors came to local government websites in May 2005. This is about 10% of the population, but more than 20% of those who use the Internet.

The Society has also published a case study from Warwickshire County Council showing more than 646,000 visits to the council site which would otherwise have resulted in a contact with the council, utilising valuable staff time. It is estimated the saving in staff time amounted 707,727 pounds.

Martin Greenwood, Programme Manager for Socitm said: “Information emerging from the website take-up service suggests that councils should be doing more to promote take-up: We know from the e-citizen national project that there is a whole population out there ready to use council websites, and that getting them to do so will bring tangible benefits in terms of efficiency gains and increased satisfaction with the council. However, it seems that councils have to date invested little in promotion, concentrating perhaps on getting the website right as a facility to offer. Now is the time to change priorities.”