This week saw the second release from the LocalGov Digital group, of which I’m the lead for the Communications and Community Management stream of the steering group.

The LocalGov Digital Usability Dashboard is a great addition to the free tools and resources we’re trying to collaboratively build for the sector. An idea which has been a long time coming and yet has been in practical development for a very short time.

The dashboard is a way for councils to test tasks across their websites and gather feedback from peers and the public. Unlike other reviews it doesn’t just test the highest volume tasks from each organisation but as many as they want – and (coming soon!) that will include bespoke tasks such as campaigns or specific policy user journeys.

Also in its favour, for me, is that it overtime it will build into an objective view of each task as it’s tested by many people, both ‘experts’ a(arguably more important) everyday people.

I remember having conversations about a tool like this as far back as 2009 but it took Simon Gray at Birmingham City Council to start proactively developing something for his own organisation’s use for that idea to be realised. Simon’s work on this has been amazing and it’s been great that we, LocalGov Digital, has been able to support him to get it launched in beta for the whole sector.

It does make me wonder why it’s taken this long for something to be created though but ultimately of no surprise to me that it is the sector doing this for itself.

I’m looking forward to how the dashboard is developed and used throughout the sector. Feedback from practitioners has been great and many of us will see the benefit of embedding the tests on individual pages to encourage take-up, using the feedback to inform improvements to user experience on our sites.

So, do you have five minutes to improve local government websites? Check out the LocalGov Digital Usability Dashboard.