Rochdale Borough Council


Accessibility Matters

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

Sitemorse has been instrumental in helping us deliver a more accessible website, improve reputation and build confidence in our site. In 2015 we changed our website CMS to Sharepoint knowing the ‘out of the box’ solution was not accessible and not believed to be easy to make accessible. We used Sitemorse’s automation tool that helps to improve the digital experience by identifying website errors. It also replaces sporadic and often manual assessment of inefficiency resulting in an improved customer experience of the website. Sitemorse is the only recognised independent sector benchmark auditing service of UK council websites; the results are published through a Sitemorse INDEX. After investing resources into using bot h Sitemorse as a product and their excellent, speedy and knowledge support service we were able to significantly improve our website and retain our 4-Socitm rating. Sitemorse has always offered us excellent support, been very flexible in modifying our contract as our requirements change as well as acting upon suggestions to improve their product/service to meet our needs. During service deployment, we collaborated on a joint project to improve the overall score, through online workshops and regular support.

What are the key achievements?

  • Council websites are independently assessed and scored by Socitm on an annual basis and rated between 1-4 stars; 4 stars being the highest stars achievable. Since moving CMSs we needed to find a tool or a partner that could help continue to deliver the highest possible experience on the website. Working with Sitemorse helped us achieve an accessible website as rated by Socitm.
  • Rochdale Boro ugh Council is one of only 5 councils in the country to achieve the maximum 4 stars for its websites for 6 consecutive years. It’s important to continue to build confidence and trust with our customers to help with digital transformation and the savings this will bring.
  • Working with Sitemorse helps us prioritise the work and focus our resources in those areas that have the biggest impact. This is crucial at a time when savings are required.
  • In 2015 we were ranked 372 by Sitemorse. In 2018 we were ranked 11.
  • A residents survey carried out in 2017 indicated 88% of residents found the website good/very good or acceptable.
  • Achieved the Internet Crystal Mark.
  • The work has helped contribute to w inning the MJ Achievement Award 2018 for Digital Transformation.

What are the key learning points?

  • Focus on the work that matters and has the biggest impact.
  • Educate others on accessibility by sharing the learning that’ s identified.
  • Fix issues and introduce new processes to eliminate the same mistakes occurring.

Additional Comments

Getting the right people, with the right skills at the right price is quite a challenge at a time of austerity. Working with Sitemorse helps us employ people with fewer skills and use their support and their product as a self-learning tool to upskill them. At a time when the website is hugely promoted through social media it’s important the website remains accessible and that it doesn’t become ‘the story’. We’ve been fortunate enough to invest in our site through passion, pride, the right tools and partners to deliver the results we require and that customers expect.