Figures released today by SiteMorse, the website automated testing and monitoring company, revealed that the sites run by Local Authorities were superior to the sites of the FTSE 100 firms in many key aspects.

Data gathered during February 2006 from testing across 5 areas – accessibility, meta data, code quality, function and performance from all local government websites and the FTSE 100 sites showed that the public sector performed better across the board.

‘The results of our comparison overturn the generally accepted notion that IT quality in the private sector is far superior to that in the public arena.’ Comments, Nicholas Le Seelleur at SiteMorse. ‘Our initial test looked at download speed. This is of huge importance to the user’s experience of any site and brand whether it is a commercial organisation or local service provider. Timely download is key to keeping customers and citizens on side and online.’

SiteMorse tested first page download speeds simulated as being viewed by users with a Modem (56k) and ADSL (ADSL 512k) connection. Sites taking longer than 14 seconds for a modem and 6 seconds were deemed to have failed the test. 60% of local government sites passed compared to 55% of the FTSE 100.

Local government came out on top when it came to ensuring sites are accessible to the disabled - 209 (45%) sites of the local authority sites surveyed and only 23% of FTSE 100 sites passed all automated Accessibility A tests. Furthermore twice as many private sector websites (5% of FTSE 100) failed accessibility A testing on over 99% of pages compared to just 2% of sites in the public sector. At the other end of the scale sites which failed Accessibility A tests on every page numbered 4 (0.87%) in the public domain and 3 (3.1%), Anglo American, Astra Zeneca and Hammerson, in the private sector. Neither sector scored particularly well on Accessibility AA testing – sites with fewer than 5% of pages failing AA testing numbered 24 in the public sector and just one in the private – sector – a good achievement for Daily Mail Trust Group. Among the 23 local government sites that had clearly worked hard to achieve this high level of accessibility were; Herefordshire, Shepway, Liverpool and Thurrock.

SiteMorse scores code quality out of 10 and on average the 460 public sector sites ranked higher with 6.3 points compared to 5.55 for FTSE 100 websites. 20% of local government sites gained 10/10 for code quality with FTSE trailing with just 8 sites getting the maximum. A further 94 (20.4 %) local government sites scored a respectable 9/10 for code quality but only 7% of the private sector’s web teams managed the same mark. Thus 40.4% of local government vs 15% of private sector sites scored 9/10 or over for code quality. ‘Code quality is a key area of website development - clear evidence here that even among the best of the FTSE there is still room for improvement.’ Added Le Seelleur.

‘In the light of the above results it is not surprising that 78% of local government sites passed metadata tests. Only 63% of FTSE sites passed the same test.’ Continued Le Seelleur.

The best performing site overall was www.portsmouth.gov.uk www.morrisons.co.uk led the field in the private sector.

Methodology of Testing
The tests were carried out in February 2006, checking the top 125 pages of each website, thoroughly testing each page for both content and build-based problems.
Site errors have the greatest impact on website performance and a target of zero errors is reasonable.
• Six key website features are tested for comparative purposes:
• Site errors reported ( and errors per page)
• Site warnings reported (and warnings per page)
• Server Response time
• First page Metadata and Download time
• Accessibility
• Calculated site download speed.

Ends

Editor’s Note
For more information contact Wendy Trollope at The PR Co. at wendy.pr@sitemorse.com on 01273 737396. For copies of the Local Government and FTSE 100 February league tables please email LG0206@sitemorse.com and FTSE0206@sitemorse.com.

SiteMorse™ - Global Leaders in automated testing and monitoring

About SiteMorse
SiteMorse offers a range of website testing services that require no setup, downloads or technical support to operate. SiteMorse measures performance, tests functions and checks compliance (HTML/eGMS/Accessibility/Metadata).
• Website monitoring - individual pages every few minutes, includes R25 reporting
• Thorough website checking - testing from a few pages to a complete site
• Website user experience - load and stress and user journey testing
We provide an Executive Summary and a detailed Technical Report identifying problems by exact type, page, line, etc to facilitate immediate cost effective corrective action.

Over 340 local and central government entities, numerous FTSE and Bank clients use SiteMorse to help them maintain error-free, fully functioning and compliant (HTML/eGMS/Accessibility/brand) websites. We are in our 4th year working with SOCITM. SiteMorse is also used by Gov. Sector Publishing, Blays Netratings and ISPA for website rankings and awards services.

Published on: 12:00AM on 15th March 2006