Using websites is now second nature to over 80% of the UK population, with web users going online to browse, shop, book tickets etc. So why is it in our latest annual council usability report, looking at the top 20 council websites, that there’s been a slight dip in the usability of council sites?
Leading councils in this year’s report included South Tyneside with a 70% usability score, South Holland with 68% and Chichester with 66% – not particularly top scores given these are supposed to be the best sites. Areas of disappointment included navigation, error handling, calls to action and progress indicators to support users when conducting online transactions.
As we feel the pinch of the emergency budget, the after effects of the recession and public spending cut, there has never been a more logicial time to maximise council web presence. Getting users to move online and more importantly, keeping them there will really help councils in the long run. Taking lessons learnt from the private sector in user conversion, preventing dropouts and improving customer service will ultimately help councils improve their online user experience.
With the entire population of the UK belonging to at least one local council, the potential website audience is everyone in the country. With an average usability score in the late-50s for the 3rd year in succession, councils simply have to improve their usability if they’re to encourage greater self-service online. This of course brings with it that all-important cost saving.