Australian government websites are failing in digital governance accessibility, landmark report finds

A landmark digital governance report studying Australian government websites has found that many are significantly underdelivering.

The report, commissioned by Accessibility Center, found that sites like PM.gov.au and PMC.gov.au had serious issues with user experience, search engine optimisation, governance and compliance on almost every single one of their pages.

The top scoring sites featured in the report, which was the first to assess the top 20+ largest Australian .gov sites, were Treasury.gov.au and HumanServices.gov.au.

Together with room for improvement on compliance to the accessibility regulations, other issues discovered on the lowest performing sites were broken links, faulty email addresses, missing images and pages that lacked descriptions and titles. Many organisations are unaware of the issues that are discovered and many more struggle with the substantial challenge of manually monitoring and implementing repairs.

Australian government sites had a statutory requirement to meet the WCAG2.0 accessibility standards by the end of 2013 – but many departments are clearly still not up to this. An essential consideration, though, is just who is advising that these sites are able to make claims as to their achievements in accessibility and their adherence to accessibility standards?

Lawrence Shaw, CEO of SItemorse, said: "when it comes to website development, many organisations rely on third-party providers and are reliant on them to build governance and accessibility standards into the fabric of the design. In our experience, they all too often fail in this, and their clients are left unaware of the issues. Nevertheless, maintaining a high standard of digital governance is a crucial part of providing a positive user experience – and meeting accessibility standards is actually a statutory requirement".

The Sitemorse INDEX report ranks sites based on the experience that they deliver, with the aim of driving accountability across organisations. Sites are scored based on optimisation, user experience and compliance, looking at factors such as loading speed, code quality and accessibility. These reporting tools are also available to purchase via Accessibility Center for organisations seeking to optimise their performance and delivery on an ongoing basis. These tools offer clear directions on how to make changes in order to quickly and effectively improve digital governance – with typical reports running at USD99 per 500 pages scanned.

The Sitemorse INDEX report is carried out by Sitemorse, which powers Accessibility Center's reporting and helps clients to continuously and automatically monitor accessibility compliance.

Accessibility Center plans to follow this report with a comprehensive benchmark survey of 500+ Australian government websites in Quarter 2 2018, as well as expanding to rank each country in the G20 group of nations.

The full results can be found at the Sitemorse INDEX page.

 

About Accessibility Center

Accessibility Center is the first fit-for-purpose, automated Accessibility as a Service solution. Rather than offering endless reams of reporting, Accessibility Center provides actionable insights. These are divided between editorial and technical changes and are prioritised in order of importance, so making major improvements can fast and simple.

 

About the Sitemorse INDEX

Since 2002, the Sitemorse INDEX has provided an independent industry standard for bench-marking digital governance. Sites are reviewed and scored based on some 1,600 tests, checks and measures per page, identifying features that improve optimisation, experience and compliance. Since its inception, it has been the fundamental measure of digital capability for organisations that strive for online excellence.

Scoring highly typically reflects those that have strong digital leadership and understand the importance of providing the best visitor experience possible – and it reflects positively on the entire organisation’s operations and branding.

For further information, please contact Michael Simon msimon@sitemorse.com.