About this Website
Thank you for visiting the West Somerset Council website.
Our website is a crucial tool in providing effective self service for our customers, making it quicker and easier for them to get information and access to the services they need.
Better Connected 2013
West Somerset Council's website has been awarded two stars in a national survey of local authority websites for its ability to allow customers to carry out a wide range of top tasks quick and effctively.
The rating came in the 15th annual 'Better connected' report by the Society for Information and Technology Management (Socitm), which aims to identify good practice in the development of local authority (and some other public sector).
432 local authority websites were examined by a team of reviewers who awarded West Somerset Council's website two stars for its ability to allow customers to carry out a wide range of tasks quickly and effectively. Four stars is the highest rating, the breakdown of star ratings can be seen below:
37 websites were rated 4 stars
140 websites rated 3 stars
128 websites were 2 stars
127 rated 1 star
The foundations for further improvement have already been laid, with plans to further and improve our navigation and our content in some of our weaker areas.
Updates during 2011
The latest update to the look and feel of our website went live in December 2011. These changes were made in response to comments made in the Better Connected Report 2011 and trying to make the tasks that people come to the Council website to complete easier to find.
We have redesigned the homepage by reducing the length of it and moving the Press Releases & Council Meetings into a box area with five tabs.
The first tab is called 'Top Tasks' which contains links to the top five tasks Paying the Council, Searching for refuse collections days, searching planning applications, registering to recieve your Council Tax bill by email and Job Vacancies.
The second tab is called 'Straight to...' which contains links to the top services that the Council provide and links to the most visited pages for each service.
The third tab is currently called 'About the Council' which provides a brief description of the area covered and the political structure of the Council.
The fourth tab is called 'News' which list all of our Press Releases.
The fith tab is called 'Council Meetings' which provides links to the next three meetings and a link to view all of the Council meetings.
The homepage also has 3 large buttons 'Apply for it', 'Report it' and 'Pay for it'. These buttons have been added to all pages on the website, enabling people to access these tasks from every page.
The A-Z of services has been moved into the banner of the website, replacing the images that used to be there.
Left hand navigation has changed into an expanding list of pages under each section.
Subscribe to council email newsletters
Improved display of Council meetings
Addition of a breadcrumb trail on each page
Claim benefits online
Links to social networking profiles on Facebook and Twitter
View planning applications
The first thing you'll notice is that the site looks radically different and is a huge improvement over the previous design. Gone is the main left hand navigation that many users found confusing. Instead you'll see a new navigation strip across the top of each page.
Each of these headings then has a mini homepage, with up to five top services profiled with a thumbnail picture and some introductory text.
You'll notice changes to the content pages as well. We've made them cleaner and easier to read. We have added a related documents area, online forms, useful internal links & useful external links sections on the right hand side of each page.
A breadcrumb trail of where you have navigated to within the website has been added to each page.
As more and more people prefer using the internet to phoning or coming in to an office, it makes sense to keep this efficient channel as user-friendly as possible.
We will continue to work towards the recommendations made by SOCITM to make the site even better for customers.
We will be reviewing the site content, removing information that isn't of general use to users and making sure the information we do provide is in a simple to understand style
We will work on a number of sections to make sure you can access information easily and quickly and we'll continue to listen to your comments and suggestions.
Let us know what you think
If you'd like to let us know your thoughts on the new design, simply use the online feedback form Website Feedback