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Survey says council websites do well on fitness info

13/04/16

Socitm's Better Connected highlights generally good performance despite shortcomings when leisure services are outsourced

Most local authorities are making a good effort to provide information on local fitness facilities, but there is a mixed picture in their delivery of messages, according to public sector IT association Socitm.

Exercise_classIts latest Better Connected survey of local authority websites revealed that 72% of those tested provide a good or very good service for people who want information on keeping fit, with the figure going up to 91% for those in Wales.

But the figure for English metropolitan districts was only 63%, as Google searches on fitness or exercise led to links that could confuse people.

Many were linked to councils' public health programmes, under which GPs can refer people to free exercise classes – a result of upper tier local authorities taking on responsibility for public health. Socitm said this could confuse people looking for classes for the general public, and that reviewers found that the public health messaging was not well integrated with leisure sections of the websites.

One reviewer commented on a low scoring site: “The public health section is informative and encouraging but needs more integration with the main site. Taking the routes in the survey gave access only to the public health aspect of fitness, encouraging activity but not directly linking to any details of what is available.”

There were also criticisms of a lack on integration with the main council pages and a poorer customer experience where councils have outsourced their leisure and sports facilities. Sites that provide all the information on their own pages tend to make it easier for users.

In addition, too many councils continue to display sports or exercise class listings as PDF documents that are not optimised for use on screen, which is particularly inconvenient for mobile users.

The survey took in the websites of 22 Welsh unitaries, 36 metropolitan districts and 11 Northern Ireland district councils.

The councils with particularly good reviews are Bury, Denbighshire, Gateshead, Gwynedd, Leeds, South Tyneside and Trafford.

Picture: public domain through Wikimedia

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