Continuing the theme about the quality of local Government websites, I've had a number of conversations about how far people drop down the rankings if they have just one problem on their site.
I'm afraid the local Government sector is suffering from it's own success. The vast improvement that so many LG sites have made over the years that we've produced the survey has meant that there is a real "crush" at the top with only a few points separating them.
Just looking at the June 2008 survey I found that the top 12 sites scored 9+, the next 22 score between 8-9 and the next 51 score between 7-8.
The surveys are based on us running a single report looking at the top 100 pages of each site. So it is very much a snapshot of the site rather than an analysis of the site over the whole month. So if we find a broken link, a problem with an email server, a couple of Priority "A" issues on some new pages that were added or performance is slower than usual during the test these will materially affect the score and drop you down 10's of places. It's not that your site was bad when we tested it. It's just that there's not much room for error these days.
When I was discussing this internally one of the guys likened it to an Olympic 100 metres race or a downhill slalom in skiing. There's only a fraction of a second separating the top group and one minor slip is the difference between glory and ignominy.
So for those sites in the top group in the survey there's often going to be no real reason to beat yourself up because you just dropped 40 places as it could be something that slipped through and next month you'll bounce back up. But competition is strong so there's no room for complacency.
And while I touch on complacency, although this posting is singing the praises of the people that manage the top sites we shouldn't forget that although 86 sites are scoring above 7/10 there are 144 sites scoring less than 4/10, These sites need to start getting their act together before the end of December 2008 when the COI's deadline expires and all Public sector sites have new guidelines on quality and accessibility to meet. (see my blog on the subject -http://blog.sitemorse.com/2008/06/government-blazes-a-trail-on-w.html)
If you'd like more info on how the scores are calculated then take a look here https://secure.sitemorse.com/benchmark.html