From Robin Goad of Hitwise:
Partly as a result of the economic downturn, and partly because online services have improved, UK Internet traffic to Government websites increased by 13.3% between February 2008 and February 2009. I would expect this trend to continue during 2009, but in the meantime here is a list of the top 10 UK central government websites during 2008.
The table itself isn’t terribly interesting – it hasn’t changed very much since the dawn of time, though with Directgov perhaps embedding its long-coveted spot in second place. The growth is another matter. It would be really interesting to be able to distinguish:
- growth from more people doing more stuff online
- growth from more people thinking that doing stuff online is a good way of doing government things
- growth from more people turning to government because there’s a recession on.
As one way of approaching the question, Directgov scores for making its traffic data very easy to find, but then loses points for showing only three months of it and for not having updated the page since November last year. The numbers there curiously show a fall of 8% in the number of visits between September and November, which appears to contradict both the idea that the downturn is driving traffic to government and Hitwise numbers reporting 21.4% growth in Directgov traffic in the twelve months to January. January itself may be part of the explanation – there is always a surge as temporary Christmas work comes to an end – an effect showing strongly in the graph for DWP traffic in the same Hitwise post.
But it would still be nice to know whether people’s expectations about the availability of government services online or about their relative attraction compared with getting the same things done through other channels are changing.