Usability Tests Find Most Council Websites Not Useful to UK Public

6 March 2012
Ben Logan

Author: Ben Logan

Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

According to the latest annual report by IT trade body Socitm, UK council websites are confusing the public and improved usability measures are needed to make them less of a labyrinth.

Socitm examined how easy it was to complete popular tasks on 433 UK local authority websites, such as paying council tax or finding school term dates. Only 5% achieved a top grade of four stars, indicating that too few of these government sites are sufficiently focused on the top tasks that are of most interest to users.

The IT trade body also performed tests on four usability criteria – navigation for top tasks; use of search engine; use of A to Z list and accessibility.

It found navigation to be a “major weakness”, with only 13% of council websites reaching an adequate standard.

This was largely attributed to the fact that many councils continue to use the Local Government Navigation List (LGNL) structure for their main site architecture, which is not suited to the public as it was designed for use by council employees rather than customers.

The “Better Connected survey” also concluded that the problems with ease of use on council websites could be due to deficiencies in their governance and management, which leave web teams struggling to balance different interests rather than concentrating on providing users with fast and simple access to the most popular public services.

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