Webcredible report: Lib Dems have best website

With the UK General Election coming up, we decided to investigate the website usability of all 10 UK political parties with parliamentary representation in the House of Commons. Yesterday, we published thereport outlining all of our findings, which makes for a really interesting read. We found that the Liberal Democrats were the clear leaders in website usability and the Conservatives came second, beating Labour by 19%. Labour only managed 5th place, also behind the SNP and Sinn Fein.

The full results are:

  1. Liberal Democrats – 80%
  2. Conservatives – 67%
  3. Scottish National Party – 56%
  4. Sinn Fein – 55%
  5. Labour – 48%
  6. SDLP – 48%
  7. Ulster Unionist Party – 45%
  8. Plaid Cymru – 45%
  9. Respect  – 32%
  10. Democratic Unionist Party – 26%

With only 2 websites scoring 60% or more, 6 websites scoring lower than 50%, and an average score of just 50% across the 10 parties, it seems that many parties still have a lot of work to do before their websites can become an effective tool in winning votes. The 2010 General Election is being billed by many as the online election. Despite this, many political parties have not really considered the role their websites will play in the election, and this could really end up costing them votes.

To inform the study, we carried out a consumer research survey (with Loudhouse Research) on how people use political party websites. Some of the key information for users visiting political websites included:

  • Finding out about policies
  • Understanding why they should vote for a party
  • Getting information on party leaders or key party figures

On the whole the party websites do perform reasonably well on these key tasks, but there’s still significantscope for improvement, for example on:

  • Providing reasons to vote for the party
  • Offering engaging content
  • Having effective navigation and orientation

The Labour party website really lost ground to the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in the guidelines on navigation and orientation, scoring nothing for a number of the guidelines while the sites of the other 2 major political parties generally scored at least 3 out of 5.

Whether this online battle has any effect on the election remains to be seen…

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