The police are never out of the news, and their websites are the most important place to get their messages across before the inevitable filter of journalistic coverage.
Of the sites we surveyed on quality, user experience, accessibility, performance and search engine optimisation, the Cleveland force’s site was once again ahead of any other police website, maintaining a total score of 9.4 out of ten possible marks. This is one of the highest scores we have recorded in any of the sectors we survey, so a great achievement.
Covering a 230-mile area on the fringe of the North York moors, the Cleveland force looks after more than half a million people. Their website carries news, surveys and a feature that allows users to type in their postcode to see details about their local police officers. We rated the site very highly particularly on code quality and accessibility.
The Dumfries and Galloway force, second in this survey, was rated highly on function, accessibility, code quality and performance, and with a 9.3/10 score it was slightly behind Cleveland but nearly three points ahead of third-placed North Wales Police, another consistent performer in our Index.
We are pleased to see the Metropolitan Police website maintains its place at 5th. Just three years ago the Met was almost at the bottom of our benchmark table in 51st place, so its web team have made very big improvements overall in that time.
Sitemorse surveys the websites of businesses and organisations in a number of sectors, and has been benchmarking and publishing the detailed results for a decade. The full results from this and other recent surveys can be seen on our website, www.sitemorse.com. Testing is undertaken using automated software that reads the first 125 pages of each site to generate a ranked table, looking at important areas such as function, code quality, site performance and accessibility.
Climbers this time include the Humberside, Sussex and Strathclyde forces, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and top climber Northamptonshire Police, which moves 27 places up the table to take 20th place.
Big fallers in this survey include the Cheshire, Bedfordshire and Central Scotland forces, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, and South Wales Police, which moved down 27 places to 58th.
Interesting data on accessibility
The 'digital inclusion' of disabled people is important for many of the sectors we survey, as well as being backed by the force of the law. If someone with a disability, such as sight loss, can't access the information on a website then it could be seen as discrimination.
The Equality Act came into force in October 2010, replacing the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in England, Scotland and Wales. Like the DDA, the Equality Act was introduced with the intention of comprehensively tackling the discrimination which many disabled people face.
Highest scorer in the Police sector on accessibility, rated 9, was Dumfries and Galloway. Cleveland, North Wales and Bedfordshire each once again scored a creditable 8.
Keeping in touch with the people they serve is crucial for all police forces, and websites are a useful and fast way of getting vital information to those who need it, as well as keeping a finger on the pulse of local opinion.
So it’s really important that a police website should function properly, to keep users interested and ensure they come back to the site in future.
Well done to the two top forces in particular for setting a great standard for others to follow. And our message to those police forces that did not do so well is – have another look at your website or sites, and get an external viewpoint on how well it is operating.
All too often it’s small things like broken links, missing images and breaks in accessibility that make a good site into an unreliable one. The new Web Manager’s Toolkit platform from Sitemorse is a tactical solution to support web managers to help ensure content is continually accurate, functioning and meeting compliance (accessibility, web, code etc) requirements - The service can be live in just 30 minutes providing instant, easy to read, non-technical detailed results, right down to the line in the code
About our surveys, and how they work
For more than a decade, Sitemorse has been the world's only single solution for web content governance, monitoring, recording and benchmarking.
Our unique Index publications, published several times a year, provide an up to the minute snapshot of the best and brightest business websites, with insight into which are passing – and failing - vital tests in performance, compliance, and accessibility.
Our software is used to test the sites of major organisations in a variety of sectors, (for example, FTSE All Share companies, and the UK Top 500 retail companies) to compile an index of who ‘does the web’ best.
This survey took place on January 2, 2013 and involved benchmarking more than 100,000 separate URLs. Poorest code quality was recorded for the Greater Manchester Police site, with more than 96,000 failures. Fastest overall response time from any site tested was the Nottinghamshire Constabulary.
More information about our surveys and what they test can be seen on our website at www.sitemorse.com
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