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Council sites improving

The number of high-quality local government websites has increased by 65% over the past year, according to the local authority IT...

The number of high-quality local government websites has increased by 65% over the past year, according to the local authority IT managers' group Socitm.

Research into 468 local authority websites by Socitm, published in the report Better connected 2005, found that 30% of websites had improved their position in the four-level ranking system.

Top-rated "transactional" websites have a significant amount of interactivity and are customer-centred, the report said. These types of websites have increased from 23 in 2004 to 38 this year. Socitm ranked the remaining websites as content plus; content; and promotional, in descending order. Only 23 websites were promotional only, the study found.

A key focus for councils in the future will be marketing the services available on their websites to exploit potential efficiency gains, the report said.

Transactional websites can help councils meet the needs of the central government Efficiency Review because they can transfer interaction from staffed council departments to automated self-service websites, said Martin Greenwood, programme manager for Socitm Insight and author of the report.

"This shift will not take place unless websites have transactional capacity, work in practice and start to attract business in sufficient volumes," he said.

"Councils need to collect more evidence about usage of websites in their areas. They also need to dedicate their efforts to getting the quality of the product right at a more detailed level."

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