Website Benchmark (UK Local Gov.) - UK local authorities achieve high website standards

06 Mar 2013

That’s the finding of our first local government website Index of 2013, spotlighting excellent achievements from councils all over the UK.

This time the top honours stay with the Vale of Glamorgan, Cornwall and Hounslow Borough Council, with the Welsh local authority just edging the lead this time, scoring an outstanding 9.5 out of a possible ten marks and moving from second place in our table into the lead.

Down one place, Truro-based Cornwall Council scores a very creditable 9.3 and also has full marks for accessibility, while Hounslow, on 9.0 overall, comfortably retains the third highest spot in the table.

Sitemorse surveys the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors using our automated software, comparing sites across a variety of key criteria of user experience, and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed “Index”results for a decade. The full results from this and other recent benchmarks can be seen on our website.

Among the very best performers, Mole Valley and previous winners North-East Lincolnshire maintain their top positions, but Inverness-based Highland Council has jumped to fourth place, rising 16 places since the last survey in Q4 2012 with a score of 8.7.

Inside the ten best performing sites, Wycome, Lewes and Wellingborough fly the flag with scores all nudging 8/10, and Enfield, Tameside, Salford and Coventry have all improved enough to be rated in the top 20 performing council websites this time.

There’s no one area of the UK that corners the market when it comes to the best-performing websites, and the highest climbers this time come from all over.

The overall winner is Truro-based Cornwall Council, with a total score of 9.2 out of a possible ten marks and rising 17 places up the table from our previous survey in August. The council’s very comprehensive site has appeared in 58 Sitemorse surveys over the last six years, but this is the first time it has been rated in the top spot.

Vale of Glamorgan’s website has frequently been highly rated by Sitemorse and although in second place scores around the same as Cornwall. Both sites have very high accessibility scores, a trend that appears to be increasing as local government sites move to fit in with recent laws on making websites accessible to disabled and partly disabled users.

The website of the London Borough of Hounslow stays in third position, this time with a score of 8.7 overall.
Distinguished mentions must also go to the Mole Valley, Blaby, Thurrock, Aberdeen and East Dunbartonshire councils, who have all continued to improve their sites and who remain in the top ten of the councils surveyed.

Between ten and 20, congratulations to Oadby & Wigston, Rhonnda Cynon Taff, Ribble Valley, States of Jersey , Merton and of course Wakefield, whose sites also appear to have improved since our last survey.

Other improvers in the top 50 include Isles of Scilly, Peteborough, Calderdale, Enfield, Barnet, Tower Hamlets and Harlow.

We’re used to seeing some volatility in our benchmarks involving large numbers of sites, as organisations score differently for a variety of reasons, for example a new or facelifted website can increases the potential score or a site can drop down the rankings when others improve.
But we have seen a lot of movement in this particular survey, with Maldon Council at 28th place with a score of 6.4 climbing a total of 330 places up the table. Those whose performance seems to have gone the other way include Croydon Council, which drops 154 places, North-east Derbyshire, down 163 , Poole, down 185, Wolverhampton which has dropped 201 and biggest faller, Torbay down from 44th to 286th place, a drop of 242 places.

More than ten per cent of the 430 websites surveyed scored highly on accessibility, a higher level than other sectors we survey, and only five councils –Newport, Nottingham, Halton, Cumbria and St.Edmundsbury – scored less than two out of ten overall.

About our surveys, and how they work

For more than a decade, Sitemorse has been the world's only single solution for web content governance, monitoring, recording and benchmarking. Our unique Index publications, published several times a year, provide an up to the minute snapshot of the best and brightest business websites, with insight into which are passing – and failing - vital tests in performance, compliance, and accessibility.

Our software is used to test the sites of major organisations in a variety of sectors, (for example, FTSE All Share companies, and the UK Top 500 retail companies) to compile an index of who ‘does the web’ best.

Sitemorse is now the suite of choice for organisations wishing to ensure their sites provide total, holistic web governance and a great user experience. Our hundreds of clients across major corporates, local and national government, utilities, financials and the health sector rely on us to help them improve the performance, compliance and quality of their websites, delivering control and web confidence.

We offer three levels of products, from our enterprise platform 'Governisation', a blend of governance and optimisation, to a suite of tools called the Web Managers Toolkit, designed to help web teams, as well as free in-browser tools that can be used by any web user to quickly ensure pages are error-free. All our services are SaaS based, with no set-up or management and are designed to ensure that our hundreds of clients in major corporations, the financial sector, and central and local government have total confidence in their websites.

Technical Data

This survey took place on October 27, 2012 and involved benchmarking more than a million separate URLs. Poorest code quality was recorded for the Conwy site, with more than 79,000 failures. Fastest overall response time from any site tested was the Bolsover council site. Only two sites were classed as error-free, and just two sites were excluded from the index, either because they were unavailable or because they use assistive technology such as JavaScript, which breaks the general “rules of accessibility” of internet sites, according to Sitemorse.

• For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 1525 375057,

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