Latest News

Over the years we have expanded the range of tests Sitemorse offers, highlighted important news and ranked top websites according to their Sitemorse result.

  • Empowering procurement-could this be a route to improving Customer Experience - 22 Jul 2014

    Lawrence Shaw, CEO of digital insight provider Sitemorse, gives a personal view on what could be done to make things better.

    How about clearer, more specific purchasing standards - and while we are at it, let’s make suppliers accountable?


    Having been watching the arguments and counter-arguments over web accessibility for a decade now, I’d like to give a personal view on what’s gone wrong and how I think we could make things better.

    This may be seen as a bit like lobbing a hand grenade into the debate, so I have to declare an interest at the outset.

    As a supplier of automated web testing (aside from any arguments about the pros or cons – automatic testing is not the be-all and end-all of accessibility, but rather a key part of the compliance mix) I’d like to give my view on why so many websites are just not accessible.

    For a considerable time my Sitemorse colleagues and I have been looking at key reasons so many sites often lack even the basics of accessibility – even though they often claim 'we are accessible to xxxx' on an accessibility page.

    I'm certain the majority of site managers want to or do not deliberately go out to miss some of the basics and then make claims which are clearly not true.

    In canvassing opinion on the issue, it seems the cause could be across a number of areas;
    - CMS vendors (some are far better than others ;-) often make lots of promises about 'compliance to such-and-such standard’ and say content cannot be published if there are any issues or non-compliance.

    - Digital Agencies also invariably say they build to certain standards. But who's checking them? We were recently advised by a major retailer completing a re-launch that “Our agency has advised us we do not need to run automated tools prior to sign off “ What a great position to be in, build a site, deliver and then audit it yourself. But if you think about it, that does not make good business sense.

    - Launch deadlines - so many site owners seem to complete their nice marketing checks and tick the boxes they like before going live. Accessibility (along with good page code etc) can seem to them to be either uninteresting – or important.

    - Procurement - are site owners really aware exactly what standards are being contracted to, and how will they be checked? Taking the word of a supplier is all well and good, but not best practice in any other area of business.

    Despite the best efforts from the likes of Sitemorse, and our competitors such as SiteImprove, Magus (Active Standards), Hi Software who produce detailed reports and bang on about how we 'must have accessible this, you are failing this” when the most recent web standard, WCAG2.0 produces so many issues that are not easy to see or understand, it’s frankly a great excuse for senior executives to cop out of the whole issue and say 'too difficult'.

    The statistics point to good reasons to have an accessible web presence - but the reality points, perhaps, to too many promises not delivered.
    Any banging of a legal drum can fall somewhat on deaf ears. A while ago, for example, we advised the DRC (UK Disability Rights Commission) that their site had basic accessibility failings such as missing “alt text” on images.

    The commission’s response was, in brief “Oh, it’s a new site, with new content”.

    Their agency (Reading Room) tried many ways to dismiss our findings, and even after we demonstrated the failings had been on the site for months (we record the exact page and can 'prove' exactly what was online) nothing much happened - bar the ‘fixing’ of the alt text.

    In my view, what’s needed in dealing with this matter from all sides, pretty much every day is a more practical set of guidelines / standards, ones that are understandable, encompass all and can be managed and acted on when a site doesn't conform.

    If the argument is 'the devil is in the detail' when the requirements have to be as detailed as WCAG2.0 etc then unfortunately there seems to be little chance of moving forward.

    Those responsible for purchasing web services could perhaps be the key to a successful change.

    How about clearer, more specific purchasing standards - and while we are at it, let’s make suppliers accountable.

    When commissioning a new site or re-launching an old one, don't get wowed by the 'doesn't it look great' factor, and - most importantly - have all the ‘deliverables' independently audited.

    After all, you wouldn’t expect the builder of your new home to sign off their own work. Why do it for your web property?

    Over the last 15 years, Sitemorse has developed a unique level of automation that views every single element of every page as a visitor would, checking infrastructure and software, assessing any 3rd-party technology, and noting anything that needs attention. Sitemorse automatically reviews its findings and prioritises them to ensure anything affecting user experience, search or exposing you to risk can be swiftly corrected, down to the line of code that needs fixing.
    The Sitemorse INDEX, published quarterly by sector, is a powerful report that rates an organisation’s online presence, comparing it to peers from the same sector. The INDEX is the longest established and independent authoritative website survey and ranking across a number of sectors - looking at the online capability of the main website available for each organization in the sector, covering sectors such as London-listed “Blue Chip” companies, Global 250 and UK top 500 retailers, UK Universities and higher education establishments, Consumer Finance providers, Local and Central Government, Global Life Sciences, UK Police forces, and more.

  • E-discovery across DOC/XLS/PPT & PDF contents supporting regulatory changes - 10 Jul 2014

    The recent service update is focused on saving time and reducing risk – it’s especially relevant with the latest regulatory changes around the use of 08XX telephone numbers. Our extensive E-Discovery capability examines not just your Digital Landscape (web, social and mobile) but also content within PDFs and office related documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint).

    example tel numbers - e discovery

    Delivering against the Ofcom regulation relating the use of premium telephone numbers, it’s ever more important to know what’s exactly online and where updates should be made and in what order. Details of the services offered and regulatory changes are available at:
    - www.sitemorse.com/news/2014/6/17/insight-supports-new-eu-regulation-phone-numbers/
    - www.sitemorse.com/news/2014/4/1/new-08xx-number-regulations-understanding-whats-across-digital-landscape/

    Regulation can be found at;
    - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266525/bis-13-1368-consumer-contracts-information-cancellation-and-additional-payments-regulations-guidance.pdf

  • Pensions Regulator team "Delighted" with Sitemorse rating of best UK government website - 25 Jun 2014

    The UK government is spending significant time and energy in creating a new communications strategy embracing the online world - Digital by Default is its credo - and expects all its vast array of websites to meet the standard.

    The Government Digital Strategy announced two years ago set out how government will redesign its digital services to make them so straightforward and convenient that all those who can use them will prefer to do so.

    Sitemorse has been using its unique powerful software engine to benchmark the quality of sites in the government sector for a number of years, and there are some surprises in our second-quarter report.

    The UK taxman HMRC and the Northern Ireland Department of Education retain places among the top three rated sites, but the website run by The Pensions Regulator has risen eleven places to take top spot with an overall score of 7.4 out of a possible 10 marks.

    The Pensions Regulator , a non-departmental public body, is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Three years ago the organisation's website rated 176th in our Index, with a score of 4.3/10, but the site has shown constant visible improvement in our benchmarks ever since.

    The Pensions Regulator-website

    We spoke to the Regulator's web team to find out what has been done to improve the site.

    Lisa Sevell, Online Services Manager at The Pensions Regulator, told us: “I am delighted at this fantastic result. It’s a great testament to the hard work and effort our small team of specialists has put in to secure the top position in what is a competitive sector. We have an ambitious programme of site development work ahead of us and are looking forward to the challenge.”

    Last year (FY 2013-14) Lisa says the regulator met the demands of delivering a quality service in the midst of extraordinary traffic growth and changing audiences, a trend the organisation has been experiencing for the past three years. Largely driven by employers and their agents seeking information and support with automatic enrolment, the regulator is delivering "a rolling programme of website improvements to ensure it remains optimised and relevant", she added.

    Improving the customer experience by tailoring what online users need, and focusing on website accessibility improvements to achieve AA WCAG2.0 for the first time, has been central to the regulator’s strategy.

    The team has also optimised organic search results to be highly findable online while delivering mobile responsive website design for customers. Specialist writers are used to ensure content is readable and easy to understand.

    Online best practice can no longer include just websites but also mobile and social channels too - and social media channels including LinkedIn and Twitter are helping the regulator to build presence and engagement.

    Big climbers in the latest central government benchmark include the Civil Service website (up 115 places to 31st overall), UK Trade & Investment (+126), Monitor - Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts ( rising 129 places to 33rd overall), Transport for London (up 139 to 69th overall) and the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission (rising 252 to enter the top 20 sites in 19th place this time).

    About the Index
    The scores for the Central Government table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
    Sitemorse services immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

  • INSIGHT supports new EU regulation - phone numbers - 17 Jun 2014

    From today the use of certain phone numbers is no longer permitted. Phone lines that can be used by customers to make inquiries / complaints after a sale must be charged at no more than the ‘basic rate’. The government’s guidance says this means not only no 09 numbers but also no 0845 or 0870 numbers even though these are commonly used by businesses as “local rate” numbers. This rule will apply even to general inquiry lines if these may also be used by consumers for post-contract queries.

    Example of reporting 0845 telephone numbers

    With our unique engine we understand and continually, comprehensively catalogue every element of every asset, on every page on every one of your digital properties (web, social and mobile) those owned by or operated for you. Let us review your digital landscape and with INSIGHT from Sitemorse appropriate decisions can be made.

    INSIGHT also includes the review of each and every asset, numbers contained within PDFs, Word documents and PowerPoint presentations can also be reported, example attached.

    For your complementary INSIGHT please contact me.

    Sara Tory
    Sales and Marketing Executive
    tel: +44 20 7183 1943
    email: story@sitemorse.com

  • Example - mapping social as part of the landscape - 10 Jun 2014

    With the social explosion, awareness of what's really out there is the starting point to managing your brand. Improved knowledge of the social position can offer a fuller understanding of the conversations.

    Example of mapping social as part of the landscape


    For your complementary INSIGHT please contact me.

    Sara Tory
    Sales and Marketing Executive
    tel: +44 20 7183 1943 / email: story@sitemorse.com

  • We are very quiet at the moment - it's going to be worth the wait.... - 01 Jun 2014

    Our Sitemorse'eons have been busy designing and coding away over the last year to bring what I hope will be a very different way to ensure your digital properties (web, social and mobile) deliver the best possible visitor experience, are optimised for Google and delivered within corporate, regulatory and web standards.

    This is a continuous work in progress, however if you see something that is not as beautiful as it should be or extras you would like to see I'd welcome your feedback.

    mapping digital landscape

  • Merseyside Police still on top, with Avon and Somerset most improved - 27 Apr 2014

    A handful of years ago ago the Merseyside Police site was hovering near to the bottom of the Sitemorse Police Force Index rankings, with a very poor score. Things could not be more different now, with the force website topping our ranking for the second quarter running.

    A successful police site needs to be fully functional, with nothing broken or missing on the page, meet legal requirements such as accessibility, perform well and – if the force really wants to engage the public who live and work in its area -, the site needs to ensure users have a positive experience to encourage them to return.

    That’s why the Sitemorse Q1 2014 Index ranking just under 50 UK police force websites is an important benchmark, spotlighting the forces that are currently leading the field with the best-working websites in the sector.

    North Wales Police move up to second place in the Index, with City of London Police now in third place, having moved seven places up since our last review in the first quarter of 2014.

    Police Scotland and the high-rising Avon and Somerset force site (@ASPolice) up 34 places since Q1 - make up the rest of the top five in our Index, while big improvements were recorded for the Durham, Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire forces.

    Avon and Somerset most improved

    Fastest-responding pages were recorded on the Cleveland, Essex and Gloucestershire force sites.

  • INDEX 2014 Q2/UK - Big improvements for the Open University see site rise 220 places - 18 Apr 2014

    The Open University is one of the biggest risers in the latest Sitemorse Universities Index – a key indicator of which UK University and college websites are the best in their field.

    Unlimited access is at; http://www.sitemorse.com/rt/1043/d1115a44

    A big fall in the OU score in our previous Index published in January led to comment from Times Higher Education, which in turn prompted the Milton Keynes-based university , world’s leading provider of online degrees and distance learning, with 240,000 students and more than 1100 staff, to issue a statement promising a planned new site would perform better.

    Open University see site rise 220 places

    “The new site will not only continue to be centred around the user experience, but also have greater focus on the sort of technical web standards monitored by Sitemorse, so we look forward to future survey results with great interest.” An OU spokesman was quoted on the Times Higher Education website in February.

    Universities and HE colleges have always been keen to attract the best quality students, but with rising fees, there’s more competition than ever in the sector, and as many potential students use online resources as a key part of their decision making process, the importance of a strong, well-performing website cannot be overestimated.
    The latest Universities Index, just published, shows the OU site has risen 220 places in the rankings with an overall score of nearly 4.5 out of a possible ten marks.

    The strongest performers in the Uni/HE college sector this time are Warwickshire College, Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, and Lincoln’s Bishop Grosseteste University College. Warwickshire, a clear point ahead of its nearest rival, has topped the Index for the fourth quarter in succession.

  • Sitemorse - helping you with WCAG2.0 across your digital presence - 11 Apr 2014

    Like many organisations who take the issue of online accessibility seriously, you are probably looking at the WCAG 2.0 standards recommended by the international web standards community.

    Example - in browser checking of WCAG2.0

    WCAG 2.0 is aimed at making online content easier to navigate and use for people with a very wide range of disabilities, but is very different from its predecessor, WCAG 1.0, which has been in use since 1999, and is likely to be considerably more complex for website owners and managers to implement.

    Sitemorse, which has in excess of a decade of experience in automated testing of websites, has been monitoring and reviewing the uptake of new standard from the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3), since its introduction. As a result we are rolling out new functionality in our Web Management Toolkit (WMTK) and Governisation products, that help organisations maintain online governance, and allow users to see in detail how their content measures up to the new standard.

    The new functionality, which will be available at no extra charge to all Sitemorse users, will not entirely replace manual testing of accessibility issues. However automated testing is able to scan entire websites on a large scale that could not be handled by even a dedicated team of testers, and in addition will assist in identifying ‘where to focus’.

    Lawrence Shaw, CEO of Sitemorse , commented: “Frequent automated reports ensure users are aware of any potential issues as they arise, and with the speed of change on so many sites, coupled with the reliance on third party integration, it has never been more necessary to thoroughly audit a site and web estate as a whole”.

    “The WCAG 2.0 standards have huge advantages for those who genuinely want to achieve online accessibility and who can put the necessary resource in place. We intend to work with our clients, understand their requirements for accessibility testing in their own digital governance and implement custom reporting that will help them on their journey, rather than just impose the findings of WCAG 2.0 automated testing on them.” he added.

    WCAG 2.0 succeeds WCAG 1.0, published in May 1999, but it does not invalidate the earlier standard. The W3C recommends new and updated content follows v2.0., while existing websites can continue to use v1.0. Sitemorse will continue for the moment to base the results of our accessibility testing on the earlier standard, although in the future will start incorporating the results of WCAG 2.0 findings in the Accessibility and Overall scores for regular audits and Sitemorse Quarterly INDEXES.

    Sitemorse users will be able to see a new look dashboard which will show their results to both the 1.0 and 2.0 standards.

    The new standard aims to be technology-neutral adjusting to the fast pace of online changes. It has four main principles, that websites should be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust, these being underpinned by a variety of techniques for compliance.

    The above example shows a website with a missing image ‘alt tag’, viewed in the Sitemorse Snapshot tool. As a result of the missing tag, the page fails a number of techniques in WCAG 2.0 . It’s one example of how a small issue can mean pages can fail the new standard for a variety of reasons.

    About WCAG 2.0
    The WCAG 2 standard has been developed by WC3, an international community led by web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and is aimed at making online content easier to navigate and use for people with a very wide range of disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Most people accept that high standards of accessibility benefit all web users, not just the disabled.

  • 2014 Q1 Global Top 250 retailers’ web benchmark : top climber H & M Hennes & Mauritz - 03 Apr 2014

    The very best retail businesses regard their online operations as equally important to their high street presence, whether or not they are selling goods across the web or just wanting to tempt customers into their physical stores.

    Top international retailers are now talking about “bricks and clicks” strategies that mean digital governance is more than ever essential to their operations – but just how well do the top retail brands online stack up when tested against user experience, governance, risk and compliance? Our latest benchmark of the sector provides an excellent indicator.

    The Sitemorse Global Top 250 retail website index is a unique benchmark of the websites of the world’s top retailers, produced exclusively for the World Retail Congress. Published four times a year, the Index uses automated software to compare the efficiency of the sites of the sector’s major retailers against key criteria.

    Swedish grocer ICA – the largest retailer in the Nordic countries - retain top spot for the fourth quarter in succession with a score of 7.1 out of a possible 10 marks, while the no-frills Polish supermarket Biedronka, owned by Portuguese corporate Groupo Jerónimo Martins SGPS retains second place with a score of 6.3/10. In third place is Swedish multinational fashion store H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, one of the most improved sites of this benchmark, having risen 105 places up the table since Q4 2013 with a score of 6.1/10.

    Spar’s UK website and Iceland Foods are the UK star performers in the top dozen sites represented in the global retail index this time, but the USA scores well, with Stater Bros, Kwik Trip and Dollar Tree Stores, where every product costs just $1, all near the top.

    Japan-based retailers have made a serious impact for the first time as four major Japanese operators earned a spot in the top 25 places - retailers from Japan had previously failed to make it into this upper echelon of the table but in the first quarter of 2014 they have enjoyed great success and pushed out some major US-based operators from this elite grouping.

    The successful Japanese contingent comprises Uny Apita, which climbed 53 places into seventh spot, Joshin Denki up 84 to 14th, Edion Corporation, up seven into 20th spot, and Beisia Group, with a rise of 28 places to 22nd overall.
    There were plenty of major climbers this time, with UK high street fashion chain Next up 104 places to 64th overall, China’s Gome Home Appliance Group moving up 140 places to 36th spot, WinCo Foods of Boise, Idaho up 156 to 39, and Family Dollar Stores up 109 to 69. Family Dollar Stores has more than 7,000 outlets in the USA and has been around since 1959.

    Fastest-performing sites this time belonged to Groupo Jerónimo Martins, Home retail Group and Dunnes Stores, with average response times for homepages of 0.02 seconds. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience.

    Family-owned Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona SA rated as having the most accessible site in the Index this time, with a total score of 8/10 for accessibility, which is now backed by law in many parts of Europe. No other site tested scored more than 6/10 in this area.

    To be held over a three day period in Paris during early October 2014, the World Retail Congress will provide a ‘one stop shop’ for retail thought leaders and senior executives to learn about all aspects of retail strategy including the physical store, store design, layout, product sourcing, customer service, eCommerce, responsive design, customer data, multi-channel, in-store digital, social media, leadership and much more, according to the WRC website.
    Sitemorse CEO Lawrence Shaw has been a member of the expert judging panel for the last four of the eight years the World Retail Congress has been held so far.

    About the Index
    The scores for the Global Top 250 retailers table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.


    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

  • New ‘08XX’ number regulations – understanding what's across digital landscape - 01 Apr 2014

    The communications regulator Ofcom has announced that charges for telephone calls to business and services are to be made simpler, with clearer pricing for all numbers starting 08, 09 and 118. Under the new plans, 080 ‘freephone’ numbers will be free from mobiles as well as landlines.

    The new proposals, scheduled to be in place by the middle of 2015, are significant and the biggest changes for UK telephone customers for more than a decade. Aimed at restoring people’s confidence in using phone services and increasing competition, they will mean businesses need to plan to make changes to existing contact numbers on websites and other forms of online marketing.

    As a result all businesses will need to closely look at their ‘digital landscape’ – comprising web, social and mobile sites -to ensure that their customer-facing marketing includes the right numbers to comply with the new rules, so the correct charges are made.

    Sitemorse is helping businesses respond to the changes by highlighting telephone number content. Website owners who have sites with large numbers of web pages and contact numbers will be able to see everything they have online to ensure it complies with the detail of the new regulation – and to make sure it remains compliant with the new rules.
    Services provided by Sitemorse can spot things human web managers can miss, and can save hours and days of the time it would take to scan large numbers of web pages manually. Working with clients, we have found that they are often unaware of more than 40 per cent of their web estate, as sites may have been set up by subsidiaries, agents, for special projects or may have been forgotten – so it’s essential that any business knows exactly what it has online and can demonstrate an ‘audit trail’.

    Sitemorse CEO Lawrence Shaw says the responsibility will be with businesses to make sure that all their communications reflect the new rules. Both published and online information will need to be carefully checked and monitored to ensure the rules are followed and that outdated advice or telephone numbers are not given to consumers.

    “This will mean a big task for businesses, which may have a digital presence of many thousands of web domains and individual web pages that will need to be compliant. Keeping track of everything you have online is more than ever essential , so it’s good that services such as those provided by Sitemorse to do the hard work of ensuring online content is both correct and monitored on an ongoing basis.” he added.

    Virtually every consumer and company in the country uses service numbers in some way. People use them to call businesses and Government agencies, make payments for services and vote on TV shows. Currently, unless they are using a BT line, callers to these numbers are not generally informed how much they will be charged. Under Ofcom’s new rules, telephone users calling service numbers will in future see the cost broken down into an ‘access charge’ to their phone company, plus a ‘service charge’ to the company or organisation they are calling. Contact us to learn more about our service on 0207 183 5588.

  • Signs of improving web governance in the government sector - 31 Mar 2014

    Clear signs of improved web governance around the new 'digital by default' strategy adopted by the government a year ago are showing up in Sitemorse's quarterly Index benchmarking of all the main central government sites.
    Many UK Government services and information sources are now on a new platform - gov.uk - that promises to be simpler, clearer and faster for its users.

    A number of government departments on the new platform are showing big improvements in our scoring, with the Natural Environment Research Council taking top place, the Serious Fraud Office rising 17 places to overall fourth position, the Low Pay Commission up 208 places to 13th, and the intelligence and security agency GCHQ up 119 places to 17th. Full data can be seen in the Index section of the Sitemorse website.

  • 2014 Q1 Central Gov. Website Benchmark: Horniman Public Museum highest climber - 28 Mar 2014

    The Government has adopted a “Digital by Default” strategy and a new platform – GOV.UK - for its online communications, and there are some clear signs of the change in the first Sitemorse benchmark of the central government sector in 2014.

    No less than 175 of the 271 sites we benchmarked have moved up our table this time, including top sites belonging to the Northern Ireland Department of Education, UK taxman HMRC, and the Central Arbitration Committee, an independent body whose role is to resolve trade union disputes. The results would seem to indicate that the general standard of web governance across the sector is on the rise.

    The new GOV.UK platform has replaced Directgov and Business Link as a hub for government activity. Currently all 24 ministerial departments, 23 non-ministerial departments and more than 340 government agencies and public bodies use Gov.uk, with the rest are gradually being merged into it.

    Taking the lead this time in our Index is the site of the Northern Ireland Department of Education, based in Londonderry and a part of the NI Direct web hub. With a score of 7.1 of a possible ten marks, the Department of Education site rises 17 places in the table since the previous benchmark in Q4 2013.

    H M Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which headed our Central Government Index for two quarters last year, rises four spots in the table this time to second position with an overall score of 6.9/10.

    In third place this time is the website of the Central Arbitration Committee, a permanent independent body with statutory powers whose role is to resolve trade union and collective bargaining disputes. The CAC site drops down one place and scores 6. 7/10.

    • Biggest climbers up the table this time include Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Trust, up 99 places to 43rd overall, the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, which rises 106 places to 7th overall, 'Bona Vacantia’, the office of the treasury solicitor, up 113 places to 22nd, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, also up 113 to 106th, and top riser the UK Border Agency, up 209 places to 28th overall.

    Inside the top twenty sites the Money Advice Service rises 18 places to take fourth position, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee is at sixth having risen 20 places, and there are improvements for the government intelligence and security organisation GCHQ, the Pensions Regulator, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Council for Science and Technology.

    • Fast-loading web pages are important, so readers of our Index might be interested to see the average response time we recorded when testing each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. The Government Art Collection and the Civil Aviation Authority are the top performers here, with average response times just 0.01 seconds for a tested page to load.
    • Accessibility, now backed by law, remains a key criterion for any site. HMRC maintains the highest score here, with 9 out of a possible ten marks. Eight government sites including the Food Standards Agency and the UK Intellectual Property Office score 8/10, a slight improvement on last quarter, when only seven sites achieved this score.

    About the Index
    The scores for the Central Government table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

  • 2014 Q1 Global Life Sciences Web Benchmark: The life science ‘digital landscape’ - 20 Mar 2014

    The Sitemorse quarterly web benchmarks of the global life science sector are always a good indicator of the companies leading the field, because any organisation’s digital communications speak volumes about the way it is managed.

    The digital landscape these days involves not just websites but also mobile and social technologies, and a good online experience is essential to make sure users find what they need and want to return. Our testing is a key indicator that a site is error-free and working well across a number of vital areas.

    Our Q1 2014 Global Life Science Index ranks US-based Idenix Pharmaceuticals as the most efficient site in the sector. With a total score of 8.3 of a possible 10 marks overall, Idenix maintains the scoring that has kept it at the top of this index now for the third quarter on the run.

    Idenix is involved in the discovery and development of drugs for the treatment of human viral and other life-threatening infectious diseases, so helping lead the fight against Hepatitis. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Its clinical development operations and drug discovery operations are conducted both in the USA and the company’s European laboratories in Montpellier, France.

    In second position in the ranking is a new site from German pharma company Cytogen, which produces testing kits for a variety of diseases. Cytogen’s site scored an impressive 8.2/10 in our tests.

    And in third place, dropping one position from our Q4 Index of 2013 is the site of ProStrakan Group PLC, which is owned by Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd (KHK) of Japan and is one of Europe’s fastest growing specialty pharmaceutical companies, producing among other products drugs for managing pain and nausea. The site scored a whisker under 8/10.

    Ensuring stakeholders can get the information they need and at the same time keeping the highest standards and exceeding compliance has to be the target for anyone taking the web seriously, so to score eight or above in the Sitemorse website Index rating really demonstrates that a company is leading the field. Sitemorse has been benchmarking and rating the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors for more than a decade, using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).


    • The best-known names in global life sciences do not always have the most efficient sites according to our testing. But over the last few quarters we have noted improvements in the websites of a number of the larger companies. Merck and Co.UK has risen 90 places in the table to 96th overall, while Novartis UK is up 125 to overall 33rd position. Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi UK and Astrazeneca’s UK sites also improved.

    Top overall risers this time are Japan's Chugai – Pharma, which rises 132 to 42nd overall, US-based Endo Pharmaceuticals, up 138 to 111th, Japan's Mochida rises 146 to 67th place and top climber Advaxis, which rises 167 places in the Index to 17th overall. Advaxis, based in Princeton, New Jersey USA, is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing the next generation of immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases.
    Fast-loading web pages are important, so we test the average response time for each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. Otsuka Pharmaceuticals Europe, Merz UK and Perrigo UK are top performers, with average response times in Otsuka’s case just 0.01 seconds on average for a tested page to load.

    • Accessibility, backed by law, remains a key criterion for any website. Highest scorers in this sector are Canadian R&D company Apotex, and Eisai of Japan, who have both maintained a score of 8/10 for the last two quarters. Otsuka Pharmaceuticals Europe scored 7/10.
    About the Index

    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

  • Knowing instantly if your online content changes including the unexpected - 18 Mar 2014

    Any business operating online runs the risk of something going wrong with content - and when it does happen it's important the right people get to know quickly they may need to act.

    Whether an unseen technical error or unwanted action by hackers, sudden changes to content can be spotted early if monitored by the web governance service provided by Sitemorse, which continually reviews and watches for anomalies and recent changes.

    Should prices of items across categories or groups of products, for example, change significantly there can be an immediate alert for digital content or brand managers - including warning text messages for urgent problems that happen outside normal hours.

    Here are some real-world examples that happened recently where teams were caught out, leaving their organisations vulnerable to potential fraud, damaged customer relations and negative publicity.

    - An unexpected technical glitch or error
    A UK retailer suffered a technical glitch in January that reduced the price of everything on the website to just £34.99 - including power tools and 'big ticket' items such as ride-on mowers with normal price tags in the thousands, according to national newspaper reports.

    - An attack by external hackers
    Hackers who attacked the website of the leading body for postgraduate education in the UK, stealing user passwords and publishing them online have allegedly been able to get back into the site and have defaced it for a second time, according to media reports.

    The website of the UK Council for Graduate Education joins that of Birmingham and Mole Valley councils for the high-profile attack, which saw more than 600 user passwords uploaded to the web.

    A hacker using the alias smitt3nz claimed responsibility for the original attack, which prompted an online apology from the UK Council for Graduate Education. No financial details were leaked, but users were asked to re-register.

  • 2014 Q1 Local Government Website Benchmark Cornwall Council no1. - 14 Mar 2014

    A high standard of web governance is important for the digital presence of every organisation, but for the huge variety of audiences served by local authority sites, it’s crucial.

    Councils in the UK are taking their online sites more and more seriously, as the many millions of users that rely on their services are not slow in getting in touch, should they be unable to get access to vital services.

    That’s why the latest Sitemorse Index benchmark of local authority sites is an important measure of how the public sector digital landscape is improving.

    This quarter there are some very big moves up the rankings, with the Knowsley and States of Jersey sites zooming more than 100 places each into the top five ranked sites.

    Heading the Index is Cornwall Council, which has moved five places up the index with a good overall score of 8.8 out of ten possible marks. The council’s web team have recently improved the navigation to the site and say it is under constant review, developing and improving all the time, with new features to make it easier for users to find the information they are looking for. According to the council, around 400,000 people visit the site each month, so the work put in to ensure the site is fully operational is appreciated by large numbers of its users.

    In second place is the site of Rhondda Cynon Taf, largest council in Wales following the merger of three former Mid-Glamorgan districts in 1996. With a population of nearly a quarter of a million people and nearly 100,000 households, the council’s website has a big job to do, and we rated it a score of 8.8/10, very slightly down on the last quarter of 2013.

    It’s been a meteoric rise this time for Knowsley Council site on Merseyside, with a third-place ranking thanks to a score of 8.2/10 and a move up the table of no less than 140 places. Knowsley has recently added online services allowing residents to view council tax and benefits information through a new secure layer of the site.

    Slough Borough Council moves up three places into fourth position this time, and States of Jersey is another big riser, moving up 130 places to take fifth position. Jersey residents can use the site to book housing repairs and driving tests, find jobs and access planning registers and library services.

    Other big upward movers this time include Fermanagh (up 190), Wakefield (+204), Cambridge (+217), Horsham (+236) and biggest riser Milton Keynes (+305 places to 97th overall).


    Why an accessible website is important
    The local government sector scores higher than any other audited by Sitemorse in the area of accessibility, with many councils prioritising disabled access to council services for their sites. No less than 14 authorities scored a very creditable 9 out of 10 in this area and 30 councils scored 8/10, one more than in our Q4 2013 Index. Top accessibility performers were Cornwall, Torbay, Lewes, Broxtowe, Tower Hamlets, Vale of Glamorgan, Salford, Woking, Derbyshire, Stroud, South Oxfordshire, Wolverhampton, Wycombe, and Wigan.

    Sitemorse commented: The very best websites provide an excellent customer experience to ensure their visitors find just what they are looking for and want to return. Behind the scenes they also have to be compliant with latest web standards and fast-moving legislation, free from links to online risks like malware and ‘phishing’ sites and they should be built in a way to enhance search engine optimisation, to ensure potential customers find them. This applies just as much to the public sector as to the private, and we are always impressed by the effort local authorities in the UK put into improving the quality of their websites, a vital link with the communities they serve.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Modernisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any web presence, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal ‘company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

  • 2014 Q1 UK London-listed PLCs Website Benchmark: Land Securities, WPP online leaders - 12 Mar 2014

    Major upward movements have seen Land Securities and communications giant WPP top our Q1 online benchmark of the UK London-listed PLCs in 2014, with high scores showing a clear lead in online governance.

    With digital performance being increasingly seen as a key measure of overall governance across any organisation, online capability and Index ranking could soon potentially be as important as that of the ratings agencies, with even the largest corporations needing to ensure they can successfully manage brand and reputation online, in a constantly- changing environment.

    With 70 years of history, Land Securities is now the largest commercial property company in the UK, and with a significant London property portfolio can justifiably claim to be reshaping one of the world’s great cities. We scored the Land Securities online presence at just over 9.4 of a possible ten marks, as near a perfect score as ever achieved, and the site moves 59 places up our table to take the top spot.

    WPP, led by the charismatic Sir Martin Sorrell is a world leader in marketing communications and the largest advertising agency in the world, employing more than 160,000 people. Founded in 1971 as a manufacturer of wire shopping baskets, the company now owns some of the best-known marketing and PR agencies. WPP PLC’s site rises 49 places in our ranking with an overall score of just under 9/10. The remainder of our top 5 rated companies includes independent pub retailing business Marston’s, newsagent WH Smith, and the North-West water company, United Utilities.

    A new site from spirits specialist Stock Spirits has entered the ranking in seventh place. The group's principal markets are Poland, the Czech Republic and Italy, and it aims to be the leading spirits producer in Central and Eastern Europe. Global investment managers Baillie Gifford trust are in tenth place after a rise of 72 places up the table.

    Our top digital leaders includes some well-known names – housebuilders Bellway , iconic entertainment name Rank Group, Premier Oil PLC, a growing FTSE 250 oil and gas exploration and production company, and electronics manufacturer Pace PLC, supplying broadcast and broadband industries maintaining 19th position overall.

    • The Sitemorse UK London-listed PLCs Benchmark Index, including more than 500 UK top company sites is a particularly important audit. Our automated checks, covering quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation, provide a useful marker for which of the leading companies in this sector is succeeding online.

    There were some big upward movements this Index from engineering consultants AMEC PLC (up245), asset investors GCP Infrastructure Investments Limited (+249 places to 57th overall), life and pensions books manager Chesnara PLC (+267), independent investment manager Invesco Income Growth Trust PLC (+352) and top riser, international energy giant Bg Group PLC (rising 388places to overall 20th).
    • Fast-loading web pages are important, so our rankings include the average response time we recorded when testing each site. A response time above 0.75 seconds can have a negative effect on user experience. Insurers Admiral Group, Rentokil Initial Whitbread PLC and Royal Mail are among the top performers here, with average response times just 0.01 seconds on average for a tested page to load.
    • Accessibility, backed by law, remains a key criterion for any website. Land Securities, WPP, Marston’s and Tobacco manufacturer BAT are the top performers here, all with nine of a possible ten marks. Imperial Tobacco Group ,Bellway and Stock Spirits Group PLC scored 8/10.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for site managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any site, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your digital landscape.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' site testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.


    More information

    • More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website http://www.sitemorse.com/survey/

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

    @landsecurities
    @WPP

  • 2014 Q1 UK Retail Web Benchmark – Bathstore most improved, up 309 places - 03 Mar 2014

    The leaders in the retail sector understand that an effective online presence is now vital for a business to succeed, and over the years Sitemorse has regularly looked at the sector we have come to the conclusion that businesses with an effective digital landscape tend to do well in the marketplace.

    That’s why our Q1 UK Retail 500 Index benchmark is an important marker of which retail businesses are the digital leaders, with a high standard of web governance that means users of their sites get a great online experience.

    Retaining top place in the Index, with an excellent score of 9.3 of a possible ten marks is the London-based high-fashion evening wear manufacturer Anoushka G. It’s the third consecutive quarter the company has been at the top of our Index, and it has not been outside the top three for four years.

    Moving up 81 places to third position this time is the Yorkshire-based discount clothing company W Boyes, which has stores all over the East of England. Womenswear specialist Jarrold & Sons, which operates from a historic mill in Norwich, rises 99 places to 8th overall.

    But seven out of the top ten performers come from the homeware sector. Lancashire-based Pownall Carpets, which has sold floor coverings for more than half a century, retains second position with an impressive 8.1/10 overall. K D Beds of Harrogate hangs on to fourth place with 7.5/10.

    Top riser, Bathstore has had a meteoric rise of 309 places to get to fifth position overall, with Sofa Workshop and Chester’s Beds Direct in sixth and seventh positions. Fitted bedroom specialist Hammonds, which manufactures all of its furniture in Leicestershire, shoots 215 places up the Index to 9th place overall, and finishing up the top ten performers is a new website from Rapid Hardware, which operates from a megastore next door to the Radio City tower in Liverpool.

    The testing of the 500 sites is undertaken by Sitemorse using automated software that, page-by-page, reads the first 125 pages of each retailer’s sites to generate a ranked table based on checks to Quality, User Experience, Accessibility, Performance and SEO capability of each.

    Other impressive gainers are toy outlet The Bear Factory, up 190 places to 42nd overall, leading clothing outfit Next, which rises 216 places to 161st position, and Eastern wood furniture specialist Lombok, which is up 254 places to 108th overall.

    Some well-known brands are moving up the Index, with DFS Furniture rising 154, toymakers Corgi and iconic rail modeller Hornby are up 71 and 40 respectively, and we have recorded rises for Asda supermarkets, Debenhams, Dobbies Garden Centres, French Connection, Games Workshop, Gieves & Hawkes, Greggs, IKEA, Jack Wills, Jacques Vert, Levis, Louis Vuitton, Screwfix, Tesco and Waitrose, among others.

    Anoushka G is the top performer in the important area of accessibility, with a 9/10 score, significantly ahead of the rest of the table. Plus size fashion retailer Elvi and specialist legal bookseller Hammicks both scored 7/10 in this area.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

  • 2014 Q1 Consumer Finance Website Benchmark – Intelligent Finance (IF) top - 27 Feb 2014

    We are all gradually getting used to interfacing with our banking services online via PCs and mobile devices, rather than popping down to the High Street to the local branch, and of course we expect our online experience to be a good one, every time.

    That’s why the latest Sitemorse Index of the online presence of more than 200 UK top consumer finance companies is helpful. Our automated checks, covering quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation, provide a key marker for leading companies in the consumer finance sector.

    Topping our list of high performing sites for first quarter of 2014, with 7.6 out of a possible ten marks, is Edinburgh-based Intelligent Finance (IF). A division of the Bank of Scotland, IF is no stranger to the top of the Sitemorse chart, taking first place in published Indexes in 2009, 2010 and 2011, so it’s nice to see them back on top after a rise of five places from our last benchmark in November.

    Second spot this time is retained by private banker Brown Shipley, which offers a UK-wide wealth management service aimed at both UK citizens and international investors. Scoring 7.5/10 overall the bank is another recent high performer, but has moved rapidly up the ranks since 2010, when it was rated 41st in the Index.

    Third place this time goes to Welcome Finance, which operates from Batley, West Yorkshire with a score of 7.5/10, rising just one place in the Index and coming in just a whisker behind Brown Shipley. The highest climber this time is HSBC Private Bank which joins the top 20 having climbed nearly 200 places.

    Index ranking is undertaken by Sitemorse using automated software that, page-by-page, reads the first 125 pages of each site to generate a table based on checks to the quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation capability of each.

    Four new sites join the ranking this time, Standard Chartered Bank UK which comes in at 60th place, JCB Card Europe (placed in 71st position), Ireland’s EBS Building Society, rated 103rd, and DNB Norbank, Denmark’s leading bank , placed 173rd.

    Our biggest improvers this time are the Building Societies Association (up 77 places to 67th overall), Rothschild & Sons (rising 80places to 66th), Debt Free Direct Group (+98 to 51st overall), The Bank of China UK (rising 109 places to 75th) and top riser HSBC Private Bank (rising 183 to 20th overall)


    The importance of an accessible website

    Around 15% of European citizens of working age, or 80 million people, have a disability or some form of functional limitation. Both that real number and the percentage will grow as the European population continues to age. Websites that can’t be navigated by disabled users, apart from being illegal, may discriminate against them and website accessibility is backed by law.

    Julian Hodge Bank’s website and that of the Leeds Building Society score highest in this sector on accessibility, scoring 9/10, with Intelligent Finance scoring 8/10.

    It’s important that websites respond quickly, and we think a response time longer than 0.75 seconds for a web page can have a negative effect on user experience. Fastest performers in our Index were Numis Securities, The One Account, the European Bank, RBS and Yorkshire Bank, with the first three responding in 0.01 seconds, on average.

    About the Index
    The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.

    Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any web presence, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

    They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you.

    They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal ‘company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

    • For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com

  • Helping UK local authorities to be “Better Connected” - 12 years on... - 20 Feb 2014

    It’s now twelve years since Sitemorse began working with Socitm, the organisation for IT professionals working in local government, an important partnership that feeds key data into Socitm's 'Better Connected' annual survey of all UK council websites.

    The purpose of Better Connected is to identify good practice in the development of local authority websites based on extensive evidence-based research.

    “There’s no question that Socitm's influence over the last one and a half decades has seen a general improvement in the websites of local government” commented Sitemorse CEO, Lawrence Shaw. “The input from Sitemorse helps the councils to improve their own performance and to see how they compare to their peers in the crucial area of web governance.”

    The latest report – available to subscribers in the local government sector in the first week of March - with be Socitm’s 16th annual survey, and a team of reviewers have carried out a structured survey with 224 questions for local authority websites, followed by four shorter surveys on specific topics.

    This research has been supplemented by seven additional sets of data, one of which is detailed technical data on the performance of each local authority site supplied by Sitemorse.

    “Our survey is now in its sixteenth year and has been supported by Sitemorse for twelve of those years. In the time we have been working with them, Sitemorse has become a very recognised provider of 'web confidence', and it's great to be supported by their unique capability" Martin Greenwood, Insight Programme Manager of Socitm told us.

    “It’s important if you are running a site to keep your eye on the ball when it comes to technical quality, because it definitely have a big effect on the user experience of the site” he added.

    This year the Better Connected survey will, among other criteria, assess the experience of mobile users against desktop users for each council involved in the testing.
    The latest Sitemorse Index of the UK local government sector will be published on 6 March. Our benchmark survey will look at the performance of more than 400 local authority websites across key criteria including function, code quality, and accessibility.

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