UKOLN is based at the University of Bath.
"A centre of excellence in digital information management, providing advice and services to the library, information and cultural heritage communities."
Brian Kelly presented a paper on Automated Benchmarking Of Local Government Web Sites at the EuroWeb 2001: The Web In Public Administration conference which was held in Pisa, Italy on 18-20 December 2001.
As local and central government services begin to provide an increasing range of Web services they will find themselves under pressure to increase the range of services they provide and to ensure that their services comply with a range of standards and guidelines: for example they will be under pressure to comply with technical standards (e.g. HTML compliance with approved HTML DTDs) and accessibility standards such as those provided by W3C WAI.
In an ideal world, organisations would ensure that their services complied fully with appropriate standards and guidelines. Unfortunately rigourous compliance will have resource implications. Even the task of monitoring compliance will have resource implications.
In addition to compliance with standards and guidelines, there is clearly a cost associated with developing new services, extending the coverage of existing services and maximising awareness of the services.
In order to ensure that communities are not addressing these issues in isolation UKOLN has, for several years, been developing a "WebWatch" service which makes use of openly accessible Web tools to audit and monitor Web sites within particular communities. This work initially focussed on the UK Higher Education community and the UK Public Library sector. With a broadening of UKOLN's stakeholder community, we are seeking to extend this work across other communities, including local and central government bodies.
This paper will review UKOLN's WebWatch work, and analyse the results of a survey across a number of local authority Web sites within the UK. The paper will summarise the limitations of an automated approach to Web site auditing but argue that this approach can provide a cost-effective mechanism for analysing communities and monitoring trends.
The paper concludes by encouraging other sectors and countries to adopt a similar approach to Web site auditing in order to allow comparisons across different sectors and communities to be carried out.
The following benchmarking surveys are available: