Socitm changes council website grading system

Public Sector IT directors’ organisation Socitm has ranked six top local government websites alongside commercial leaders such as Amazon and Friends Reunited, for user friendliness and delivery.

Public Sector IT directors’ organisation Socitm has ranked six top local government websites alongside commercial leaders such as Amazon and Friends Reunited, for user friendliness and delivery.

The six local authority sites, chosen for their user-orientation and their demonstrable understanding of why visitors might be using them, are Birmingham, Brent, Maidstone, Poole, Surrey and Wrexham.

Socitm has rated these alongside Amazon, Easyjet, Visit Britain, Friends Reunited, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the BBC.

The organisation has also announced a revamp of its rating system used to evaluate local authority websites.

In its Better Connected local e-government ranking system, an "E" ranking will now run alongside the existing ranks of "P" for promotional, "C" for content, "C+" for content plus, and the current top "T" for transactional ranking.

To get an E ranking the site will have to be "effective, efficient and engaging", said Socitm.

Socitm said the ranking system needed extending as technology managers who had achieved the coveted T status, by developing an interactive, transactional website, needed a further goal.

Martin Greenwood, programme manager for Socitm Insight, said that the criteria by which Better Connected judges public sector websites needed updating after the 2005 e-government deadlines, because many sites had achieved the T status and new incentives were needed to recognise the drive for continuous improvement.

“We also needed a way to deal an emerging phenomenon we have called the ‘patchwork’ site, one which is great in some areas – let us say online forms – but dire in others, maybe its A to Z navigation or its accessibility,” he added. “The new system of assessment will make clear where each site is doing well and equally where it needs to do better.”

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