Australian Government websites ‘underdelivering’

The Treasury has the best website

A new digital governance report on Australian government websites has found that many are significantly underdelivering.

The report, commissioned by digital governance company Accessibility Center, found that sites like and had serious issues with user experience, search engine optimisation, governance and compliance on almost every single page.

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

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 have had a statutory requirement to meet the WCAG2.0 accessibility standards by the end of 2013. Many departments have failed to measure up.

Lawrence Shaw, CEO of Sitemorse, which developed the metrics toold used in the survey, said that the poor results mean questions need to be asked.

“Who is advising that these sites that enables them to make claims as to their achievements in accessibility and their adherence to accessibility standards?

“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 directions on how to make changes in order to quickly and effectively improve digital governance – with typical reports running at US$99 per 500 pages scanned.

The Sitemorse Indexreport is carried out by Sitemorse, which powers Accessibility Center’s reporting and helps clients monitor accessibility compliance.

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

The ten best Australia government websites, according to the index:

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

The Sitemorse Index has provided benchmarking for digital governance since 2002. Sites are reviewed and scored based on some 1,600 tests, checks and measures per page, identifying features that improve optimisation, experience and compliance.

A high score 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.

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