Web satisfaction dips

Federal sites with declining satisfaction outnumbered those with rising scores.

American Customer Satisfaction Index

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The latest quarterly poll of public satisfaction with government Web sites shows a slight but statistically significant drop compared to December.

The release of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index finds that overall public satisfaction with federal Web sites was 71.9 out of a possible score of 100. That’s less than the satisfaction rating of 72.1 the index found users to have in late 2004.

In addition to the decrease in overall satisfaction number, the proportion of Web sites with declining satisfaction scores, 35 percent of the total, was greater than the number with increased scores, 31 percent of the measured total.

"I wouldn’t say we’re seeing a huge downward trend," said Larry Freed, chief executive officer of ForeSee Results, which co-sponsored the government satisfaction index.

But the decline, Freed added, should raise a yellow flag for agency officials, who may be not be channeling their limited resources into areas requiring the most improvement.

Web managers for federal agencies dedicate considerable resources toward updating their sites and satisfaction scores for content are indeed a high scoring element. But finding new content is a low priority for 96 percent of surveyed visitors, the index finds.

Federal site navigability and search engines score among the lowest of measured elements, suggesting that to boost future scores, agency officials should work to improving both elements, Freed said.

Recently released Office of Management and Budget guidance mandating some basic Web design elements is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough, Freed said.

"It felt it was more 'Standards 101,' " Freed said. The document includes "some pretty basic concepts" such as requiring a search engines on all agency sites, he added.

A surprising result from the quarterly survey was how low privacy scored as an area of concern, Freed said. Privacy scored an 81 satisfaction score and was a low priority element, according to survey results.

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