Most councils in the UK are now receiving up to half of visits to their websites from mobile devices, says Socitm, the representative body for those in public sector IT.
The organisation has released figures from April 2014 that demonstrate the use of smartphones and tablets to access a sample of 100 local government sites.
It claims that in January 2013, 28.7 per cent of visits to council websites were from mobile devices - but this figure has now seen a 35 per cent increase to 38.7 per cent.
Socitm claims that the rate was even higher for the top 10 local authorities at 48.3 per cent, the exception being Broxbourne District Council, which received over half (51.3 per cent) of its visits from mobile devices.
“The variation between the highest and the lowest suggests that there are significant local factors, which may include the availability of broadband, the quality of the mobile experience and the profile of Internet users,” says the report.
Different Devices, Different Webpages
The body’s research not only investigated how users accessed council websites, but also the differences between pages visited depending on the device used.
It found that mobile users visited leisure facilities websites more than twice as much as desktop users, while schools and youth services, rubbish and recycling, housing and transport were also more popular on tablets and smartphones.
However, council tax and planning webpages were more frequently accessed via desktops than mobile devices.
“The lesson is that web teams should focus on improving the mobile experience for those services that are the most popular for users of mobile devices,” says the report.
Mobile Usage Could Combat Digital Exclusion
Socitm also noted that the increasing use of mobile devices to access public services could be used to help tackle the problem of digital exclusion.
Its report questioned the possibility of developing an app that would allow people to gain free access to public sector websites via their mobile phone whether they have an active data plan or not.
“For individuals, using the Internet can mean much greater convenience, lower household bills, finding a job, or maintaining contact with friends and relatives,” claimed Martin Greenwood, Socitm Insight programme manager.
“The rapid growth in mobile devices gives local public services an opportunity and business case to support digital inclusion and deliver these benefits, but the evidence suggests that they need to improve their own offering to mobile users if they are to get the full benefit of this change,” he added.