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Better connected headlines 2015

This section provides the national picture of the state of development and performance of local authority websites. We present overall rankings using the Better connected star system (one to the top ranking four stars).

Better connected headlines 2015

44% of all UK councils have a good website rated 3 or 4 stars

Overall star ranking for all councils and council types

KEY CC = County Council, SD = Shire district, LB = London borough, MD = Metropolitan district, EU = English unitary, WU = Welsh unitary, SU = Scottish unitary, NI = Northern Ireland district

    All councils * CC SD MD EU SU WU LB
4 star 2015 35
(9%)
6
(22%)
9
(5%)
3
(8%)
7
(13%)
5
(16%)
1
(5%)
4
(12%)
2014 32
(8%)
5
(19%)
13
(7%)
3
(8%)
3
(5%)
7
(22%)
0
(0%)
1
(3%)
3 star 2015 149
(37%)
12
(44%)
78
(39%)
15
(42%)
17
(30%)
11
(34%)
5
(23%)
11
(33%)
2014 156
(38%)
13
(48%)
73
(37%)
19
(53%)
24
(43%)
9
(28%)
9
(41%)
8
(24%)
2 star 2015 109
(27%)
9
(33%)
45
(23%)
11
(31%)
17
(30%)
8
(25%)
5
(23%)
14
(42%)
2014 134
(33%)
8
(30%)
60
(30%)
11
(31%)
23
(41%)
9
(28%)
6
(27%)
17
(52%)
1 star 2015 114
(28%)
0
(0%)
68
(34%)
7
(19%)
15
(27%)
8
(25%)
11
(50%)
4
(12%)
2014 85
(21%)
1
(4%)
54
(27%)
3
(8%)
6
(11%)
7
(22%)
7
(32%)
7
(21%)

* 407 councils were tested in 2015. Because of local government reorganisation effective from 1 April 2015, Belfast City, which is largely unchanged, was the only council tested in Northern Ireland. Since 2014, the partnership between Adur & Worthing councils, resulting in a shared website, has reduced the number of shire district websites assessed from 201 to 200.

In comparison with 2014, the number of four star sites has increased by two, but the number of three star sites has decreased by 13, meaning that overall, the number of good and very good sites has declined slightly. Numbers of very poor sites have increased.

The drop in four star sites in 2014, largely explained by the introduction of integrated testing of the mobile experience has been halted, as shown in the chart below.

Mobile experience

135 sites (33%) passed the Better connected mobile standard, nine more than in 2014.

There is a clear relationship between the councils with the best developed websites and those with the best mobile access as can be seen in chart 1.2b. Four star sites are required to achieve the mobile standard, but the percentage drops sharply for 3 star sites (39%), 2 star (27%) and 1 star (12%) sites.

Performance by council type and by service and usability factors

KEY CC = County Council, SD = Shire district, LB = London borough, MD = Metropolitan district, EU = English unitary, WU = Welsh unitary, SU = Scottish unitary, NI = Northern Ireland district

  All councils ** CC SD MD EU SU WU LB
Better connected overall (stars 1-4)
Highways
Report street lighting failure
44% 48% 0% 64% 30% 75% 23% 24%
Rubbish and recycling
Report missed bin
34% 0% 35% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Libraries
Find out how to borrow e-books
35% 52% 0% 47% 29% 41% 9% 33%
Leisure facilities
Find out about keeping fit
27% 0% 27% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Council tax
Apply for council tax reduction
32% 0% 32% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Planning and Building Control
Find out about permitted development
47% 0% 49% 47% 43% 50% 32% 48%
Schools / youth
Apply for free school meals
44% 70% 0% 47% 43% 22% 45% 42%
Parking
Renew parking permit
38% 0% 0% 17% 0% 0% 0% 61%
Family history
Find out about local archives
78% 78% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Council business
Find out about my councillor
46% 74% 48% 39% 45% 50% 23% 36%
Social care
Apply for a blue badge
61% 74% 0% 0% 61% 53% 55% 0%
Social care
Find out about breaks for carers of adults
35% 56% 0% 33% 41% 28% 23% 24%
Environmental health
Report a bonfire problem
31% 0% 31% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Council business
Find out how to vote
50% 0% 53% 56% 55% 22% 14% 67%
Registration services
Find out how to register a death
68% 70% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Usability and other
Navigation (% pass) 37% 59% 33% 50% 34% 44% 41% 30%
Search (% pass) 71% 78% 68% 72% 73% 72% 68% 88%
A-Z (% pass) 64% 70% 63% 61% 70% 69% 41% 64%
Mobile (% pass) 31% 44% 26% 47% 36% 53% 18% 18%
Accessibility (% pass) 43% 52% 36% 47% 46% 69% 41% 45%

Assessment of progress in 2015

The Better connected results in 2015 show a slight decline in performance by overall star ranking, and also by comparison of the number of tasks across all councils that have achieved Better connected standards. In 2015 only 42% of all tasks did so, compared with 52% in 2014 (see table below).

The 2014 survey had also seen a decline in performance compared with 2013, with in four star sites down to 32 from 39 and three star sites down to 157 from 165, as well as a significant fall in accessibility standards.

This indicates that local authority website performance over recent years is struggling to keep pace with technological developments and increasing customer expectations, despite compelling reasons for councils to become ‘digital by default’.

Improvement in key criteria that are part of the Better connected assessment

Criterion Sites reaching standard (2014) Sites reaching standard (2015) Comparison with 2014
All customer tasks 52% 42% Significant deterioration
Navigation of top tasks 33% 37% Minor improvement
Use of search engine 71% 71% No change
Use of A to Z index 60% 63% Minor improvement
Accessibility 26% 43% Significant improvement

The lack of progress seen in Better connected 2015 is reflected in visitor feedback from users of council websites collected via Socitm’s separate Website performance service.

This service offers visitors an online survey where they can record satisfaction (or not) and indicate whether they were able to do the task that they came to the website to carry out.

During 2014 an average of 28% of desktop visits and 30% of mobile visits ended in complete failure. These are significant increases from 2013. In addition, the average figure for net satisfaction in 2014 was 17% (calculated by subtracting the percentage of those who are dissatisfied from those who are satisfied). This is a 39% drop in satisfaction from the previous year’s figure of 29% and a much greater drop from that recorded by our own reviewers’ assessments.

Four star sites in 2015

  • Adur & Worthing (now a joint website) (also in 2013 and 2014)
  • Argyll & Bute (also in 2012 and 2013)
  • Blaby DC (also in 2014)
  • Bristol City (also in 2011 and 2014)
  • Calderdale MBC
  • Canterbury City
  • The City of Cardiff
  • Chichester DC
  • Cornwall
  • Dorset CC (also in 2013 and 2014)
  • East Renfrewshire (also in 2014)
  • East Riding of Yorkshire (also in 2012, 2013 and 2014)
  • Eden DC (also in 2011, 2013 and 2014)
  • The City of Edinburgh (also in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014)
  • Hackney (also in 2012)
  • Haringey (also in 2012, 2013 and 2014)
  • Hinckley & Bosworth BC (also in 2013 and 2013)
  • Kent CC (also in 2013 and 2014)
  • Luton BC
  • North Yorkshire CC (also in 2012 and 2013)
  • Oxfordshire CC (also in 2010 and 2014)
  • Preston City (also in 2014)
  • Richmond-upon-Thames (also in 2011)
  • Rochdale MBC (also in 2011)
  • Sandwell MBC (also in 2014)
  • South Lanarkshire (also in 2013)
  • Staffordshire CC (also in 2012 and 2013)
  • Wandsworth
  • Warwick DC (also in 2013)
  • Wealden DC (also in 2012)
  • County council 2
  • Unitary (E) 5
  • Unitary (E) 13
  • Unitary (E) 20