Political party websites quality shortfall

The UK’s political parties must do more to improve the quality of their websites if they are to play a decisive role in their 2010 General Election campaign strategies, according to a new evaluation of online politic information resources.

The Q1 2010 UK Government Website Index was conducted by usability evaluator Sitemorse in partnership with marketing specialist Alterian. It tested all websites deemed to be ‘at the heart’ of the central government and politics – including those belonging to 11 parties contesting the UK national and local elections on 6 May.

The Index ranks websites across six key criteria – Accessibility (based on W3C Web Accessibility levels A and AA), Code quality (standards of performance and layout), Email functionality, Function checks (e.g., broken links, missing documents/images), Metadata (e.g., SEO), and Performance (overall website speed, page loading).

Of the three big UK political parties, only the Liberal Democrats made it into the assessment’s top 50 rankings. The Liberal Democrats’ website was the most improved in terms of accessibility and performance, rising from 333rd place last quarter to 37th this quarter, the Q1 Government Website Index found. Overall, the Conservative Party’s website ranked 187th ahead of the Labour Party’s online counterpart, which ranked 385th in Sitemorse’s latest evaluation.

Websites have become “the first point of call for citizens looking for party information”, argues Alterian CEO David Eldridge: “The website becomes the organisation’s representation of quality - as such, it is imperative to create a positive experience for website visitors,” he says.

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