The annual report examines all 433 UK local authorities and measures their performance against a set criteria. The report ranks each council as well as highlights best practice and ultimately measures if they are "useful, usable and used".
Some of the examples of best practice highlighted in the report include GOSS client Exeter City Council.
The Council's website navigation was praised in the report:
"Top marks for clear and consistent navigation. The home page provides users with obvious links to popular tasks using phrases such as 'Find out when your bin is collected' and there is a useful tag cloud which also appears on service landing pages. As you navigate through the website, the design is simple, logical and easy to follow. The related links on the right hand side are not overwhelming and the A to Z is well promoted. This is an excellent example of a customer-focused information architecture."
GOSS client, North Lanarkshire Council were praised for their exceptional information provision during the severe winter weather at the end of 2010. The report stated that their winter service page was "brilliant" and the Council themselves were pleased that they were able to provide information to over a million extra website visitors during the period.
Their information provision was recognised as being in the top 6% of the UK and their winter Twitter feed (@nlcwinter) was the 4th most followed of all council feeds.
Sue Roberts, Website Development Project Owner, North Lanarkshire Council was delighted with the site's performance.
"The website was the hub of all our winter communications. It supported our residents, fed information to other media and created space for our other communications channels to concentrate on delivering services. We were able to handle, effectively, one million additional information requests through the website."
A full case study of this can be found here.
Rob McCarthy, Managing Director at GOSS Interactive comments,
"This annual review of local authority websites is a useful illustration for local authority Chief Executives to recognise the value in continuous investment into their digital strategy. Its widely accepted that by encouraging citizens to communicate with councils online with systems that work effectively, is a sure fire way to reduce costs and facilitate efficiency savings. The challenge facing council CEO's is ensuring the channel shift strategy is in place to meet all elements of this vision.
"Local authorities are under sustained and increasing pressure to do more with less. Central to this driver is the ability to increase the number of services delivered online and the enhancing the volume of uptake - self service is the key to driving efficiencies. This is the major factor that will continue to drive local authority web development over the next 12 months and beyond. We are working hard with our clients to create and maintain websites that are useful and usable, to promote better citizen service and engagement, whilst driving down the cost of engagement. As part of this we are looking at ways we can support our clients to leverage their investment in GOSS iCM to facilitate more online transactional capability. The all new forms solution and associate community drive, Community download area, sharing best practice in online engagement is another recent illustration of this commitment to its clients by GOSS."
Other report highlights and comments include:
New Forest District Council
"The Find My Nearest was truly amazing and easy to use and a model for others to follow. The whole site felt engaging with wonderful use of images throughout and modern, fresh layout. It was really a pleasure to use this site and I had a real feeling for the area as well. Well done New Forest!"
Swansea City and County Council
"A very good website - scored a lot of '3's on the scenarios, and on the whole it has all the great majority of features and content we are looking for. There is also some good social media innovation."
Chichester District Council
"A very nicely presented, simple to navigate website providing some useful information to its citizens."
Chorley Borough Council
"Good site, with clearly and concisely presented information."
Dumfries and Galloway Council
"The design is very good and I loved the colour scheme."
Further praise from the report for Exeter City Council
"This is a fantastic site. It's just so easy to use and the quality of the content is really good. Top tasks are highlighted and there's innovative use of word clouds on landing pages which makes it easy to get to access popular information. The site has a very good A to Z and the search works well. It has a really good "find my nearest" facility that contains an extensive list of useful data about my property and nearby facilities. It also has additional pages within it that allow me to sign up for alerts about any new additions to information about my postcode including news, events and planning applications nearby. There's also a "my bulletin" page that shows information about travel news, events and local news. The landing pages are very engaging, using colour and images to highlight items of interest and top tasks. It's hard to find anything to criticise. This is a fantastic site and a model for others to emulate."