Mobile responsive council websites on the increase, finds survey – but quality declines

Web and digital managers must engage service managers to create ‘properly digital’ services, not just put a service online, says Socitm review team

Only 55% of UK local government websites were rated as providing a ‘good or very good’ experience for users Image: GOV.UK

The number of councils with mobile responsive websites has increased, but the quality of the overall experience has declined since last year, according to a major annual survey of all 416 UK council websites.

The annual Better Connected survey from the Society of IT Management (Socitm) found that  89% of council websites now present a ‘responsive’ or mobile site when accessed from a smartphone, compared with 80% in 2015-16 and 57% in 2015.

But when it comes to the overall quality of accessing a council website via a mobile device, new analysis shows that only 52% of sites achieved three or four stars – with four being the highest – compared with 67% in 2015-16. 


Overall, 36 councils were awarded 4 stars, while 190 were awarded 3 stars, which translates as 55% of UK local government websites providing a ‘good or very good’ experience for users.

The star rating is based on a set of tasks performed by reviewers: how easy it is to perform four separate ‘service task’ based surveys (for example, apply for a resident’s parking permit); the quality of site navigation, search and A-Z facilities; and how responsive the site is when accessed on a mobile device. 

The top performing service task was ‘find out about roadworks’ for which 85% of council websites achieved a three or four star rating. But not one council website achieved a three or four star rating for the service task ‘find out about children’s sport activities’. 

The Better Connected team said: “Performance of council websites in service based tasks, where reviewers look at the whole customer journey and process for tasks, as well as the quality of information content and the way it is presented, is generally less good than their performance in the mobile and search, navigation and A-Z tests which focus on the findability of content and the performance of site tools. 
“This suggests that web and digital managers, and those they report to, still have work to do to engage service managers with the task of creating properly digital services, as opposed to simply putting a service ‘that has always been delivered that way’, online.”

The survey was conducted by a team of eight professional reviewers. 

Fifty councils are on a shortlist for the Better Connected Awards, based on their performance in the survey, under 16 categories including ‘best council,’ ‘best for social care’ and ‘overall award.’


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