Data on usage and satisfaction levels with council websites has been made freely available for the first time through a new performance reporting tool launched by public sector IT managers' association Socitm.
The Council Website Performance Monitor presents headline data from Socitm’s website user survey, making this freely available as a public service to anyone who is interested.
Staff from councils subscribing to Socitm’s Website Performance Service can also use the interactive reporting tool to get access to a range of detailed metrics for their own individual council.
They can compare their performance based on this year’s results with that of the previous 12 months, and can benchmark their performance against that of all other councils of a similar type, or with any other individual council that participates in Socitm’s Website Performance service.
While web managers from individual councils have always had access to the survey results data, the new online reporting tool means that any manager or decision-maker from a subscribing council can access the latest data for their council at any time. All they need to do is register on the site with their council email address.
Reports and summary data can also be downloaded for sharing through local channels.
Data currently presented on the Council Website Performance Monitor shows that in April 2013, 46 million visits were made to UK council websites, compared with 35 million visits in the same month in 2012.
The most popular services in April 2013 were rubbish and recycling (13.37 percent of all visits), planning (8.63 percent), council tax (8.27 percent) and libraries (7.94 percent).
Finding information is by far the most important reason for people to visit council websites, with 54.76 percent of all visits in April 2013 being for this reason. Making a payment (7.58 percent), "just browsing" (7.76 percent), making an application (6.85 percent) and reporting a problem (like a pot-hole or faulty street light) at 5.68 percent were other main reasons to visit.
The raw data used for the reports is captured through a pop-up customer survey that has been running on up to a third of all council websites since 2004. The data is published by Socitm, which runs the survey on behalf of participating councils.
Martin Greenwood, who runs Socitm Insight, said: "We expect that many senior managers are simply not aware of the high volumes of enquiries that are being dealt with by their websites. We hope that publishing the data publicly like this will also draw attention to levels of failed visits that need to be reduced significantly, if substantial cost-saving channel shift is to be achieved as per government digital policy."