Local Council websites struggling with rise in mobile access to services

UK council websites are struggling to adapt to the rapid growth in use of mobiles to access online services, according to Socitm’s 15th annual survey of over 400 local authority websites.

Mobile Access to Online Council services – Socitm survey findings

The recently published Socitm’s Better Connected survey found that only 31% of local government websites have reached the ‘Better Connected’ standard for mobile web access despite the fact that a third of visits to council websites are made from mobile devices.

Results from tasks tested via mobiles were only half as good as those tested from desktop and laptop devices, suggesting that councils are finding it difficult to adapt their online platforms with the needs and requirements of mobile device users.

Socitm’s website performance service found that in 2013 public satisfaction with user experience from council websites dropped by 12%. The survey also found an overall drop in the number of four star and three star websites owing to poor mobile user experience.

According to Digital by Default News, other key findings from Socitm include the following:

  • A survey of local authorities’ digital engagement reveals patchy but improving performance. Use of online customer accounts is 32%, e-mail alerts 36%, and social media is evidenced on 88% of home pages. 40 councils (10%) are rated good overall compared 4% last year
  • Better connected identifies and lists 69 ‘apps’ compared with 36 found in last year’s survey, an increase of 92%. This does not include council promotion of third party service apps, which were most frequently found for cashless parking, food hygiene ratings, taking payments, swimming timetables and library catalogues.

Local Council need to build relationships with key IT suppliers

Owing to the digital by default imperative, local councils’ digital services have suffered due to poor mobile performance. Socitm’s report states that: “Having reported modest improvements in the past two years, we have this time reported a setback.”

The report specifically calls on councils to build better relationships with key IT suppliers.

“Most council web managers believe that on their own they cannot influence suppliers and that suppliers will respond by saying that all their other customers seem to be happy with the product. This unsatisfactory situation requires action at a national level.

“With budgets and resources increasingly stretched, then, more than ever, councils have to work together and with a host of providers.

“We suggest that web strategists develop some new thinking about intelligent sharing of digital assets with other public bodies. At an organisational level, sharing of services is now becoming extensive. If these sharing initiatives are not implemented intelligently, we have seen how they can disrupt the online user experience.”

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