Council websites rate high with users

Most visitors to council websites are happy with their performance, according to council research from IT managers association...

Most visitors to council websites are happy with their performance, according to council research from IT managers association Socitm.

Socitm's Insight web survey of 20 selected council sites shows more than 73% of visitors found all or part of the information they sought, and nearly 82% said the website was likely to be their first port of call in the future.

The survey found that job vacancies were easily the most sought after information for visitors, with job searches accounting for four times more visits than the next reason, which was planning applications.

The results were based on site visits last October, and the information was collected from one-in-ten unique site visitors who completed a feedback exit survey when they went to leave the website. Over 8,000 exit surveys were completed among 650,000 unique visitors.

Socitm said analysis showed most visitors were so far more interested in getting information, rather than carrying out transactions such as paying council tax or booking leisure facilities.

By April 2006, all local authorities will be expected to have established internal targets and measures for customer take-up of e-enabled access channels.

Martin Greenwood, programme manager for the Socitm Insight survey, said, "The findings show that most people who are using council websites like the experience and are keen to repeat it. A key message is that councils should be stepping up promotion of their websites to encourage more people to make that first visit.

"If people find the information and trust the website, they might also start to use transactions and opt for self-service options."

The short report - "Building usage of council websites: summary of early findings from the Socitm Insight website take-up service" - costs £20 and can be ordered from www.socitm.gov.uk.

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