Council web managers fail to measure site success

Council web managers are failing to properly measure the success of council websites, contributing to poor service and ineffective sites.

Martin Greenwood,...

Council web managers are failing to properly measure the success of council websites, contributing to poor service and ineffective sites.

Martin Greenwood, program director of Socitm Insight, said one of the reasons council websites are unsuccessful is that council managers use statistics such as the number of hits or page impressions a site gets.

He said senior council managers do not always understand these figures, leading to an incoherent strategy or a lack of drive behind website improvement.

The Society of IT Managers (Socitm) has criticised councils in the past for failing to provide citizens with decent internet-based services. Many people try to interact with local authorities over the web, Socitm says, but do not manage to do what they wanted to because of badly designed sites. As a result, councils are losing up to £11m a month because these people then choose more expensive ways of communicating with the council, using face-to-face or telephone services.

"Websites are not really on people's radar yet," Greenwood said. "Web managers do not always help because they produce unhelpful statistics which some senior managers do not understand, such as hits and page impressions."

Councils should instead measure which tasks and transactions on the sites are the most frequently used, and whether they are completed to identify whether people are doing what they came there to do.

"Measure how long the task takes and whether the person achieved what they wanted," he said.

Ultimately, websites will need more investment, which is difficult at a time of expected budget cuts. But better websites have the potential to save money if well designed, Socitm says.

"In the longer term you can encourage self-service where it is appropriate," Greenwood said. "You can reduce resources in the contact centre and the service departments."

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