Blast from the past

While transcribing interviews for the ILDEM project, I was reminded of one of my MSc courseworks, about Scottish Local Authority websites. It wasn’t perfect but I think my conclusions were based on good evidence. They were

There is marked variation in LA website accessibilities, some having very few accessibility features. It seems no Scottish local government website is ‘perfectly’ accessible while a signicant number do not follow a national standard, the Scottish Navigation List. [1]

However, the current analysis has some subjectivity. For example, some websites stated aims to follow standards and these were given marks: actual conformance was not tested. Further, it was not tested which features actually benefit many people.

Deeper statistical analysis of the current results, qualitative analysis of LAs’ replies [to questions about their formats and underpinning systems were chosen],  further conversations with LAs and accessing LAs’ own research could be valuable in understanding the variations between LA websites. It may be valuable to run nationwide surveys, using sets of citizens (e.g. working-age/pension age, employed/unemployed) living outwith LA ‘silos’, to find which accessibility features are of most net benefit and how these relate to demographics. Also, LA websites should be tested on other types of cellphone. [Cellphone tests were only run on my iPhone.]

It would also be interesting to find whether any Scottish local government websites use semantics in their search functions.

  1. It may be that central government cannot enforce SNL use without breaking at least the spirit of the concordat with local government. (Scottish Government and COSLA, 2007).

Have local government websites improved since I wrote that in early 2012? It would be interesting to repeat and extend this research. Comments from users would be very welcome!

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