Socitm, the Society of IT Managers in the public sector, publish their annual Socitm Better Connected 2012 report today into the quality and performance of local authority websites. The report is used by public sector organisations to help drive increased usability for citizens and to help reduce service costs for councils.
"This is an exciting time for everyone involved in the creation and delivery of digital public services. This report is a great starting point for improvement, showing where effort can be focussed to deliver improvements for users." Mike Bracken, Executive Director of Digital, Government Digital Service
The report goes on to say "... people come to council websites to find a piece of information or complete a piece of self-service. The website should be designed around this need. It should be easy and quick to do. The [organisation] ...needs to know what the most frequently used tasks are and design the site to respond..."
GOSS Interactive have been delivering GOSS iCM Web Content Management and website publishing software for over 10 years. Today it is in use by major corporations and public sector organisations where it is the market leader in use by over 50 of the 433 UK local authorities.
In the report, over 55% of GOSS clients have been rated amongst the highest in the country with a further 28% maintaining their previous good scores.
Four star councils
Additionally in the league table of "Top 20 best developed sites" GOSS clients were amongst the few who were awarded the highly prized 4 star accolade.
The report highlighted South Tyneside Council's website, saying "This is a great website, it really feels like the user experience has been carefully considered in the site's creation."
North Yorkshire County Council's website was also praised as a top site, "A very strong website - strong top tasks focus from top to bottom; engaging; interactive; highly-featured...it is much better than most."
Collectively GOSS clients saw a 22% improvement over the previous years report with the majority of GOSS clients scoring either 3 or 4 stars.
The Better Connected 2012 report focused specifically on 12 "top tasks" where many GOSS clients were praised.
For paying council tax Rushmoor Borough Council was praised for "[Paying council tax] is well signposted...the instructions are clear and contain all the detail necessary to complete this task" and South Kesteven District Council, "Again, the real strength was the council tax home page, which sets out all the main areas in very clear panel format. I think this is a fantastic approach."
For library information Bury Metropolitian Borough Council was cited for best practice "A clear and easy path to follow, with good instructions about logging in".
In the school information section, North Yorkshire County Council was praised, "One click from the home page, and helpful information about the inset days including a download listing these by school. Very strong." South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council was also highlighted for clear presentation, "This was presented in a calendar view on the page with colour coding for holidays, inset days and bank holidays. So, there is no need for this council to provide a downloadable version for people to print out as when printing the page itself it was in a perfect format to hang on your wall already. It also provides calendars for each school."
Under local democracy and participation, Teignbridge District Council was highlighted, "This site has an excellent set of pages detailing how you can get involved and listing all consultations. Encourages participation. Clear calendar which collates start and end dates of consultation exercises alongside other local consultation forums and meetings."
Rob McCarthy, CEO, GOSS Interactive adds, "It is good to see local authority websites reviewed against task orientated criteria that deliver real benefits to end users and real savings to councils. Although delivering excellent websites requires much more than delivering top tasks, the report does give a very useful overview of the state of local authority websites. We work very hard with our clients, and it is good to see our combined passion rewarded."
"As experts in facilitating digital strategy for organisations, GOSS is able to provide a full service for councils who want to improve their channel strategy and provide more services online."
"GOSS recently announced that it had been selected for the Government CloudStore catalogue. The CloudStore allows public sector bodies to procure technology quickly, easily and with substantial savings, to revolutionise the speed for which government can adopt the best solutions."
Posted by Pete Stevens 1st March 2012