12 March 2013

Northamptonshire County Council’s mobile website has been recognised as one of the best in the country by best practice organisation SOCITM.

SOCITM carries out a survey of local authority websites every year to find out which websites are customer-friendly, easy to use and can quickly provide the information people need.

The survey is based around the concept of top tasks that most visitors to a council website will want to do, such as checking opening times, paying a parking fine or reporting a pothole.

The survey also tested performance across four key criteria – navigation for top tasks, use of the search engine, use of the A to Z list and accessibility.

Overall, the county council’s website retained its three-star status, out of a possible four stars.

The mobile website also achieved the new mobile standard for the 2013 Better Connected report – just 15% of over 600 councils achieved this. In the report, SOCITM inspectors said:”This is the best mobile council site I’ve yet seen. It’s very comprehensive in its offering and very easy to use. The navigation works well. Top tasks are promoted. I was even able to search the library catalogue and reserve a book on this mobile site. Impressive.”

As well as the mobile website, the council also has an iPhone app and Android app which are both free to download.

Cabinet member for customers and communities Councillor Heather Smith said: “We know that people expect to be able to access council services and information 24/7 and the website is the best way of making this possible. It’s probably our most important way of communicating with the people of Northamptonshire and continues to increase in popularity, with 100,000 people visiting the website in December 2007 compared to 170,000 people visiting the website in December 2012.

“I am particularly pleased that SOCITM have recognised our mobile website as this is an area we have been working hard to improve. This is because we are seeing a real increase in the numbers of people accessing the website via their mobile phones - last year, the busiest day saw just 4,700 visits to our mobile site whereas this year, on 20th January when it snowed, there were 48,835 visits to the mobile site.
“And importantly, providing a good quality website and making it as easy as possible for people to contact the council online makes good financial sense as it’s estimated that if someone chooses to access information online instead of making a telephone call, the council saves £2.95.

“We are continuing to develop our website and will be looking at the comments of the inspectors to see where we can improve. I believe it won’t be long before we become one of the few councils in the country to achieve four stars.”