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Council websites still falling short of digital by default

The majority of UK local authority websites are not meeting the government’s digital by default service standard for good performance.

This is according to a survey aiming to provide an insight into how residents experience a council’s web services, carried out by Software as a Service (SaaS) provider netEvidence.

According to the firm, 69 per cent of local government frontline websites are underperforming, with 156 of the 227 councils failing to meet the threshold of good website performance.

This figure is five percentage points more than in similar researched conducted last year – in 2014, 745 of councils failed a half second loading limit test.

The study also claims that some councils have no way of judging how well their services are being delivered due to using external providers with no way of measuring users’ experiences.

Welsh Councils Outperforming Rest Of UK

Thurrock Council (opens in new tab) was said to be the top performer, operating at a speed 122 times faster than the worst performing authority, which took over 40 seconds to load.

Of all councils investigated for the study, Welsh County Councils were found to be the best performing, with just eight of 22 failing performance tests.

Meanwhile, English councils were the lowest performing group as 24 of 28 English council websites took over half a second to load.

Of London Borough Councils, Westminster’s website (opens in new tab) was the fastest loading in just 0.08 seconds, but 69 per cent of authorities in the area were found to be underperforming.

The majority (77 per cent) of metropolitan councils also did not fare well, slightly worse than the 69 per cent of unitary authority websites that failed to load in half a second or less.

In Northern Ireland and Scotland, 65 per cent and 69 per cent of councils surveyed failed the loading test respectively.

“Digital services must be better than those they are meant to replace”

“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,” claimed netEvidence CEO Richard Thomas.

“A council’s website is just the first point of contact; it is effectively a supply chain linking a whole host of digital services that all need to be performing well to fulfil a customer’s request.

“However, having outsourced key part of their infrastructure, many UK councillors and officers – particularly those at senior level – now lack any real-time visibility into how these online services are performing and more important, 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,” he added.

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