3 Website Reliability Metrics Councils Should Be Measuring
We recently featured in LocalGov.co.uk. If you missed the write up, you can catch up in full, here…
There are high expectations from users for council websites to be up and reliable. They are also required to adhere to guidelines set out in the Service Standard to make their website accessible and user friendly. Alongside these challenges, councils are often underfunded and understaffed which can make council web management teams stretched. Here are three key metrics that councils should be measuring to improve website reliability.
1. Uptime Percentage
Making sure the website is not down is the first issue council websites need to avoid. If any part of the website is down this can cause user frustration and drive complaints. It is vital for councils to be alerted to downtime issues quickly to fix down pages or elements. Council websites should ideally be aiming for a 99.9% uptime percentage.
Another risk for councils with reliability is development changes breaking functionality due to websites running on legacy code databases. Developers may no longer be working there and therefore it is easy to break these systems. Councils can set up advanced alerts to alert if elements and pages are broken due to these issues. This means the web management team is quickly aware of an issue, rather than waiting for a disgruntled tweet, or a call to their customer services team.
2. Core Web Vitals
Google’s set of performance metrics called Core Web Vitals is an initiative focused around user experience stages of a web page. These metrics are important for councils to monitor to ensure the loading, interactivity, and visual stability of a website are performing well. Councils could be failing their users by not passing these metrics. The three signals are:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP measures loading performance. This is the amount of time to render the largest content element visible in the viewport, from when the user requests the URL. Typically on a council website, this is a video, image, or large text element.
First Input Delay (FID): FID measures interactivity. This is the time from when a user first interacts with your page to the time when the browser responds to that interaction. This could be clicking on functions or different pages.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures visual stability. CLS measures the sum total of every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page. This includes ensuring graphics and other visual elements are in their right place – so a user can experience them as intended.
In addition to these metrics, councils should monitor their The Chrome UX Report. This data shows how a website is experienced by real users. Understanding how different demographics, geo-locations, and device types experience a website can help councils fix website issues with their users in mind.
3. Process Reliability
Uptime monitoring is only the first step in reliability monitoring. Council websites are functioning websites with key processes such as registering to pay council tax, checking bin days, and viewing planning applications. These processes can fail for a number of different reasons and need to be monitored regularly.
If they use third parties for any of these functions such as live chat, analytics, marketing it’s vital to check these are not breaking the website. Councils often have small teams, therefore they don’t usually have a big quality assurance department for manual testing, therefore automated synthetic testing is a good idea to check process reliability metrics.
Councils need to measure reliability frequently and baseline their website against service standards. RapidSpike helps councils with website reliability as we offer a broad adaptable monitoring suite, and offer website insights to advise on how to reach new regulatory requirements. By monitoring these key metrics, councils can improve reliability, user experience and accessibility which can help with cost savings, time savings, and reputational damage control.