Thomas Bridge 31 October 2014

Majority of council websites fail government standard

A majority of council websites are failing the Government's good performance standards, as speeds worsen on last year - research suggests.

Some 69% of local authority's front line websites are thought to be missing performance and speed thresholds, a five-point rise on 2013.

The Government's Digital by Default standard requires members of the community to prefer using digital services to transactions undertaken on the phone, by post or in person. However the study by netEvidence suggests some 156 UK town hall websites are taking more than 0.4 seconds to respond, raising concerns about whether such a requirement is being met.

Thurrock Council was named as the top performer, its website responding 122 times faster than the country's slowest performing site. Belonging to a Scottish council, the 'worst' site was found to be taking over 40 on average to open.

Repeating their success last year, Welsh county councils were found to be the best performing group with only 36% missing standards.

English counties however came bottom of the league, with 86% of sites taking over half a second to respond.

'UK local authorities are increasing their use of digital services to replace high cost call-centre services but if digital services fail to deliver a good end-to-end experience, it can result in all sorts of problems such as delays in getting benefits or an officer's inability to resolve a customer's issue even during face to face meetings,' said Richard Thomas, CEO of netEvidence.

'Having outsourced key parts of their infrastructure, many UK councillors and officers - particularly those at a senior level - now lack any real-time visibility into how these online services are performing and more importantly, what experiences people have when using services. This visibility and knowledge of how people experience digital services is fundamental to achieving the Government's aim of making it the preferred form of contact for public services.'

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