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Socitm Insight, the group's division that looks at best practices in digital engagement, bases the conclusion on results from its website benchmarking service, used by more than 100 local authorities in the U.K. to monitor user satisfaction with council websites. The rolling tracker, running since 2004, collects up to 25,000 surveys a month from council website users. Since January it also has tracked mobile users, including those using tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices.
"These results make clear the high level of demand for access to council websites from mobiles," said Martin Greenwood of Socitm Insight. "Councils need to analyze this information carefully in order to inform development of their websites for mobile."
Greenwood's team polled respondents about their main area of interest, the reason for accessing a council site, their level of satisfaction with the transaction, and if they were able to achieve what they set out to do.
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In the first three months of 2013, 23% of visits to council websites were from mobile devices. Reasons for visiting were schools/youth (16%), rubbish and recycling (15%) and leisure (10%). Local taxes was among the least popular services to visit from smartphones, while housing and libraries got more mobile visitors than desktop visitors.
The increased use of smartphones to interact with council websites shouldn't be too surprising. In December, U.K. communications regulator Ofcom found that 60% of all cell phones are smartphones, and the Government Digital Service reported that about 20% of visits to the gov.uk site in December was from smartphones, a number that jumped to nearly 25% in January.