Councils improve performance on mobile optimisation

Socitm warns that councils lagging behind on mobile configuration risk shutting out users with disabilities.

Some councils’ third party software is not optimised for mobile Credit: Press Association Images

Around 10% of councils have still not optimised their websites for mobile viewing, according to a new survey.A team of reviewers visited all 416 UK council websites from a smartphone for Socitm’s Better Connected report.

It found that 89% now present a responsive or mobile site when accessed from a smartphone, up from 80% in 2016 and 57% in 2015. It said that users with disabilities could find it hard to access sites which are not purposed for mobile.

Neil Phillips, lead UX strategist at Zengenti, sponsor of the survey said: “Users expect to be able to find the information they are searching for with ease no matter what device they are using.

“With 60% of search traffic coming from mobile users – which we expect to rise even further in the next year – accessible mobile design is key. It’s great to see that councils are recognising the importance of having a site that performs well on mobile.”



The review team tested council websites on ease of use, navigation, and whether functions such as forms and maps worked properly on mobiles.

Of the councils offering mobile-configured sites, 60% provided a “good” or “very good” experience.

Socitm said: “The sites that perform best when accessed from mobiles have designed their sites around services, with uncluttered home pages, precise labelling and good links to sub sections on the home page -giving access to well-used services in just one click.

“Sites that put imagery, promotion and council messages above usability, with too many, too prominent notices, twitter feeds, pop-ups, disclaimers and more, scored less well.”

Data from GOV.UK for May 2017 shows desktop visits to its site at 51%, down from 54% in May 2016.

Socitm also raised concerns about councils which have responsive sites but rely on non-responsive third party software to deliver transactions and interactions.

Better Connected programme director Vicky Sargent said: “There is some evidence from our surveys that service managers, who are usually responsible for commissioning forms and other software for online service delivery, need to move faster to ensure third party software they procure accommodates mobile users.”

Colin Marrs

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