Government websites ‘boring’ says e-Envoy

The e-envoy has warned that too many online services developed by local and central Government are boring and do not address the needs of customers.

Speaking at the Government Computing show in London, Andrew Pinder said that the public sector was well positioned to hit the 2005 deadline for delivery of public services online. By the end of this year, he predicts that three quarters of all services will be online.

But he criticised the lack of collaboration between departments, and a lack of innovation about how services should be delivered.

‘We need to get services online that are attractive, that people want to use and that are easy to use – and we’ve not done very well. In central government, we’re still looking out from our silos,’ Pinder said.

He warned that pressure on departments to hit the 2005 targets had distracted them from working with others to develop creative online services that met customer requirements.

‘It’s about understanding your customer and giving them what they want. Too many of us are delivering services that are boring, chunky and not innovative,’ Pinder said.

The Office of the e-Envoy today launched a set of Web design guidelines for UK Government websites aimed at helping public sector web management teams improve their websites. The handbook offers advice on areas including content and website maintenance together with links to other sources of policy and guidance.

‘This is guidance for best practice in the design of sites. We need to raise our game, particularly in central government. We will deliver to our 2005 target but I want to deliver real value for money to the taxpayer,’ Pinder said.

Pinder’s vision also includes signing partnerships with third party, voluntary and private sector organisations who will deliver online public services as part of their offering.

‘Use of intermediaries can help reach parts of the market that we wouldn’t normally reach. Government services can add value to their brand and add value to us,’ Pinder said.

The Office of the E-envoy has already given £20m to the Citizens Advice Bureau to fund improvements to the CAB’s IT infrastructure.

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