Better connected has been assessing local authorities’ online performance since 1999. Today it evaluates a wide range of digital performance by local public service providers, covering websites, social media and customer portals, as well as takeup, satisfaction and management.
All site visitors can see headline results from Better connected surveys for all 418 UK local authorities, as well as a range of contextual data relevant to their web/digital performance (population, households, deprivation, web visits, Twitter followers etc).
Socitm subscribers can see details of all current and archived results from Better connected surveys, including those from their own organisation and for other subscribers.
Employees of any organisation that subscribes to Socitm Insight can access the full research findings using their Socitm login details. Check if your organisation subscribes to Socitm, and if it does, you can register free of charge as an individual. If your organisation is not a subscriber benefits of doing so are available on the Socitm website.
Betterconnected.socitm.net was launched in the Autumn of 2015. Full results from 2015-16 surveys appear on this site, with more limited results from 2015 and 2014 surveys. Further information surveys from 2011-2015 can be found in the library of the Socitm Group on Knowledge Hub.
Socitm subscribers get access to their annual Better Connected results free of additional charge, but there are some associated 'paid for' services.
Subscribers that have made improvements to their website since the year’s Better Connected overall results were published (in May), can choose to have one or more surveys repeated with a view to getting improvements recognised in their scores published on this site. The service works like this:
In the interests of transparency, new scores resulting from these reviews are set out alongside the original scores. Find out more and book a ‘paid-for’ review.
Better connected surveys explore the ability of websites to provide quick and easy ‘customer journeys’ and successful resolution of a series of top tasks. ‘Top tasks’ may be informational (Find out about keeping fit) or transactional (pay parking fine).
Tasks are selected from service areas that have high web visitor numbers (based on data from Socitm’s Website Performance service) or which may be important for reasons of legislative or other change. Inclusion of purely informational tasks is based on the fact that data shows more than half of all visits to council websites to be for information only.
Reviewers conduct some tests on a smartphone (eg the rubbish & recycling tasks in Better connected 2015-16), reflecting the fact that nearly half of all visits to council websites are now made from mobile devices.
As well as performance in tasks, the survey evaluates site navigation, search, and A to Z; the degree to which sites are purposed for access from mobile devices; and their accessibility to people with disabilities. Testing the latter is carried out for Better connected by the Digital Accessibility Centre.
Question sets for tasks and usability tests are available on individual council results pages (for logged in users) and in the ‘all council’ reports that appear in the services and usability sections of the site.
Headline results from individual tasks and tests are set out on the individual results pages for each council and in the ‘all council’ reports. Detailed scores are available to Socitm subscribing organisations that are logged in.
These scores are the basis for awarding Better connected ‘stars’ – four stars denoting a very good user experience, three a good one, two unsatisfactory and one a poor experience.
Stars are awarded for each task tested, for the navigation/search/A to Z experience, and for the experience from a mobile device.
Scores are then aggregated into a star ranking for each website. To get a four star site ranking, a site must achieve 12 out of a possible 16 ‘task stars’, get 3 or 4 stars for the navigation/search/A to Z and mobile experiences, and pass the accessibility test (ie score 2 or 3 where the range is 0-3).
Prior to 2015-16, while the survey method and question sets were very similar in approach to those used now, aggregation and presentation of results was very different:
These policies have changed for the following reasons:
Information about the scoring of individual tasks and tests for Better connected 2015 (‘the standard) appear on individual councils’ results pages and on the ‘all council’ reports pages. Further information can be found in the Better connected 2015 report downloadable from the library of the Socitm Insight Group on Knowledge Hub (Socitm subscriber login required).
If you have any enquiries about the contents of this document, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The digital engagement survey evaluates councils’ activity around customer accounts (for transacting online); email alerts for news and services; and social media channels. Reported as part of Better connected, results of this survey do not contribute to the Better connected star ranking.
The digital management survey, completed by web/digital managers, provides data about digital management within UK councils. In 2015 this produced returns from 164 councils (40% of the UK total) including nearly 50% of county councils and single-tier councils, and 66% of Scottish councils. It provides information on web and digital governance, strategy and policy, content management, performance and usage measurement, resources (including the core web team and content editors) and budgets.
Arrangements for these surveys in 2016 will be announced in due course.