Headlines: March 1st, 2011

The latest ‘Better Connected’ survey from the Society of IT Management shows that there has been a marginal improvement in the service provided by council websites since the 2010 survey. But the overall conclusion is that 98 percent of sites could do better and 68 percent of sites fail to achieve more than two stars.

The sites were assessed on usefulness and usability and the survey reveals that only 2% of council sites achieved the top four-star ranking and only two councils retained their four star ranking this year. The number of three star sites increased to 30% compared to 24% last year. The number of two star sites fell from 46% to 43%, and one star sites were down from 27% to 25%.

In terms of performance by type of council, London boroughs come out with 67% three and four star sites, significantly higher than shire counties with 44%. Groups that perform the worst are Northern Ireland districts with 0%, unitaries in Scotland with 28% and metropolitan and shire districts, both with 28%.

The top performance by region is London with 67% of three and four star sites, the North East with 42%, the South East with 38% and the North West with 37%. The lowest performance is in the East Midlands with 19% and the East of England with29%.

In 2010 there was a 12.7% increase in use of the Internet by users in the UK and the use of council sites in this period increased by 12.95%.

A disturbing feature of the survey is that 21.89% of visits to council sites during 2010 ended in complete failure, potentially creating wasteful avoidable contact in councils’ other customer channels.