Service deliveryDigital Customer ServiceCouncil websites show progress in presentation of childcare information and services

Council websites show progress in presentation of childcare information and services

Results of the latest survey on council website performance show progress is being made on the presentation of 'Find Childcare' services on mobile devices

Results of the latest Better Connected survey on council website performance show progress is being made on the presentation of services on mobile devices, based on the findings of the ‘Find Childcare’ task.

Reviewers were asked to test websites on the sort of questions parents and carers seeking childcare might ask, using a mobile device. Overall, 52% of councils tested – including all 206 UK councils with responsibilities for children’s services – were assessed as providing a good or very good service for the task. A number of councils recommended for the task were cited as providing an ‘excellent’ or ‘outstanding’ service.

According to Better Connected, although ‘Find Childcare’ is a relatively straightforward, requiring the presentation of specific information about well-defined things (e.g. availability of free childcare for two- to four-year olds) it almost always led reviewers into directory services hosted on third party platforms.

Directories linked to council websites are often problematic, as has been reported by Better Connected following a number of surveys on adult social care, with platforms from the same provider performing well or badly depending on how well they are implemented and integrated with the main council website, and how well they are maintained.

Viewing directories, with their dropdown menus and multiple options, map facilities and other complex functionality, can also be problematic on mobile devices unless they have been well tested and configured to suit the mobile environment.

 

Good examples

In all, 20 sites are recommended for good practice. There is little variation in terms of the proportion of sites scoring three or more stars between England, Scotland and Wales, despite slightly different arrangements applying in England and Scotland – where there is a centrally provided Family Information Service – and significantly different ones in Wales. No Welsh site scores more than three stars, however.

A number of top examples were highlighted in the full report, which can be found here.

Reviewers gave Buckinghamshire full marks for its site, saying that the childcare directory worked well on mobile and there was a good spread of information available between the main council site and the Family Information Service one.

Bradford was also praised for the way the Family Information Service is integrated into the main website design – reviewers said this is brilliant from a user perspective on a mobile as it makes the whole journey seamless, which is essential when you have limited screen viewing. The use of a Parents Voices video also helped to lift the content.

Manchester was also praised for being a sleek example of a well-designed site that works responsively and all areas from homepage category to search results are quick and accurate.

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