Network launches council feedback crowdsourcing site

LocalGov Digital, the local government ICT practitioner network, has launched a new tool to crowdsource feedback on council websites.

The new website, www.council.usability-test.org.uk, is currently in beta mode, with users able to rate the provision of services across more than 100 councils in England, Scotland and Wales.

Councils can access ratings and comments on their services, to help assist their useability testing processes, according to Simon Gray, corporate web and self service development officer at Birmingham City Council, who built the site.

He told PublicTechnology.net: “This is a way that cash strapped councils can get important feedback on their web services for free. It could even be used by them in a controlled user lab environment.”

Gray said that councils often only had a limited amount of money to spend on user testing, only allowing them to focus on the best used services.

He said: “The problem with current council website testing is that it only covers small amounts of what a council does.

“We know that 80 per cent of visitors to local authority sites use about 20 per cent of the services, and sometimes the other services get overlooked.”

He said that crowdsourcing feedback will enable councils to access larger samples, giving a more objective view of where improvements could be made.

The site launched on Tuesday and has already had 500 tests completed by 148 visitors.

Site users are given a random council and a random service and are asked to rate the ease of use, although they can also select their own choice of council and service.

Services which can be rated range from adding names to the electoral role through expressing concern about a vulnerable child to paying parking fines and council tax.

Gray said: “We don’t consider this site to be a replacement for all other user testing, but it is  one tool for web teams to use as part of a suite of tools.”

All English county councils and London boroughs, along with a number of city and district councils are currently listed, with the number expected to grow in coming months. 

Colin Marrs

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