Tue 31 Oct 2017
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Topics and timetable for surveys in 2017-18
We published the timetable for surveys in 2017-18 in our blogpost of 29 October and will be starting to reveiw sites in November. Please note that the timetable is for guidance only and may change according to reviewer availability and other factors.
Socitm subscription renewal alert
Socitm is changing arrangements for councils that subscribe to its services (including access to Better Connected) via Socitm Insight or the newer corporate membership. Single tier authorities and county councils may choose from three levels of corporate membership, all of which include Better Connected. District councils can additionally choose a lower cost 'Better Connected +' option which includes other benefits. The options and prices are set out on the Socitm website. For those of you that do not manage the Socitm subscription, please check that the new arrangements are understood and in hand by whoever does. Socitm subscriptions are due by 31 December. Non-payers will not be put forward for stage two accessibility testing and will have BC site access removed from 31 January 2018. Please contact the Socitm office if you have any queries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01604 70945
Accessibility testing starts November
Accessibility testing will start in November with the stage one test of the home page. Councils need to pass stage one in order to progress to the stage two test. Only sites that have passed stage two can be awarded four stars. Non-member sites are not tested at stage two. The are more details on the arrangements here https://betterconnected.socitm.net/blog/2016/november/changes-to-accessibility-testing-for-2016-17 and there is information in how we will be making test results easier to understand here https://betterconnected.socitm.net/blog/2017/september/making-better-connected-accessibility-testing-moreaccessible
Collaboration with service management representative bodies
People who have attended our Better Connected Live events will be aware that we are working more and more with the professional bodies that represent planning, waste management, social care, library and other local authority professionals. We believe this engagement is essential to enable web/digital teams have more constructive conversations with senior service professionals about digital service design and presentation. We are very pleased to report that RTPI (planning) and LARAC (waste management) have both been working with us on the content of new surveys we will be running in these areas in 2017-18.
Better Connected Live 2018
Please keep 27 June 2018 free for this one day event that will run once again in Birmingham. We will bring you a programme of service-based workshops (eg planning, social care, libraries) as well as specialist workshops on accessibility, security, mobile, forms etc. There will be opportunities for one-on-ones with Better Connected reviewers and members of DAC's accessibility testing team. We'll also be giving out a slew of Better Connected Awards and inviting your feedback for the following year.
Accessibility testing 2017-18 - clarification for sites with ads
Councils that take advertising on their sites, and are worried about the impact of ads with moving content appearing during Better Connected testing, should note that in our published criteria for 2017-18 we have downgraded ‘No accessible controls present to stop movement’ from an issue scoring 8 to an issue scoring 7. So, movement on pages will NOT automatically drop your task score to a 1 when it appears (please note this is an update on advice given at the Connected Local Government Live conferenece in June). Published criteria can be downloaded from the library of the Web Improvement Community in KHub (login required).
Testing councils' A-Z functions
In August we published a blogpost that kicked off a wider debate about testing of A-Z functions in Better Connected. We noted that this year’s survey found 107 of the UK’s 416 council websites to have dropped the A-Z feature on their websites. However, of council websites re-designed and relaunched between January and June this year, two thirds continue to provide an A-Z. Since then there have been useful arguments put forward for and against retention of the A-Z feature which you can view in a Linked in thread and in the Web Community on KHub. Just to clarify for anyone that still believes this to be the case, since 2015, Better Connected has NOT and WILL NOT mark down councils that have dropped the A-Z.
If your council performed well in Better Connected 2016-17, we can supply three and four star logos to display on your website. Simply email email@example.com
Briefing on Better Connected
In September Socitm published the briefing Better Connected: The continuous improvement platform for council web and digital services. Its a useful introductory piece and we'd encourage you to share it with any people whose decision-making affects the user experience of your website. You can download the briefing from the Socitm website.