Local councils in the UK have made considerable improvements to their online services in the past year, according to web consultancy firm Webcredible.
Its study shows a promising trend towards to better online services, such as council tax payment and planning application viewing provided to citizens in the UK.
The Webcredible annual survey shows that six of the council websites lead their peers with usability scores of 60% or over, whilst the vast majority scored over 50%, and the average was 56.6%.
Last year's study revealed that more than half of websites scored less than 50%, and concluded that with an average usability rating of 45.5%, local authorities needed to review the online service they provided to the public.
The leading councils this year were Clackmannanshire, Greenwich, Haringey, Southwark, Brighton & Hove, and Merton.
Trenton Moss, director at Webcredible, said, "This positive turnaround in online services ultimately means that these authorities will benefit from improved communication with citizens and significant cost savings.
"This year's study shows that council sites have been much better at providing simple navigation of their websites and prioritising and displaying key information.
"Areas for improvement include better form processing and error handling, providing text resizing controls and progress indicators to support users when transacting online."
The Webcredible study benchmarks the Socitm Top 20 local authority websites against a set of 20 best practice guidelines for ensuring optimum user experience. These guidelines were developed by Webcredible specifically for local authority websites.
Some key areas highlighted for improvement across the board include:
*Displaying a prominent "contact us" link with phone number and hours of operation (current average score 2 out of 5)
*Having clear text resizing controls at the top of the page (current average score 1.1 out of 5)
*Providing a search function that understands common mistakes and abbreviations (average score 2.1 out of 5)
For the full results go to: