99% of government websites fail performance tests

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Nearly all 400 state government websites failed at least one performance test for page-load speed, mobile-friendliness, security, or accessibility, according to a Monday report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

The websites examined in the report provide information for some of the most basic government services, such as taxes, driver's licenses, elections, vital records, business registration, fishing and hunting licenses, and traffic tickets.

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The majority of government websites passed performance tests for desktop page-load speed (77%), mobile-friendliness (67%), and accessibility standards (59%), while only half (50%) passed the mobile page-load speed, the report found.

The two tests with the lowest passing rates were alarming: Only 44% of government websites use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), which encrypts web browser and website communications. Additionally, only 4% of state websites based both HTTPS and Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC) tests, the report found.

Out of all 50 states, these 10 had the highest overall government web performance scores, according to ITIF: Virginia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri, Michigan, Arizona, Vermont, and California, respectively.

Only one state government website passed every test: Virginia's hunting and fishing license site.

With only one out of the 400 sites passing all tests, it's clear that these websites need to be improved. Here are ITIF's recommendations for governments to improving their web experiences, according to a press release, which apply to websites of all businesses:

  • Mandate government websites implement security best practices
  • Require government websites to be mobile friendly
  • Consolidate websites to create a single face of government
  • Find local partners to test accessibility of government websites
  • Adopt a web analytics program
  • Invest more to modernize websites and make them more user-friendly

"State government websites are among the most widely used on the Internet, but on average they are not the best," ITIF research assistant and report co-author Michael McLaughlin said in the release. "States need to work harder and invest more to modernize their websites and ensure that, as technology advances, access to public services improves."

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • 99% of state government websites don't pass all necessary performance tests. -- ITIF, 2018
  • Only 4% of the 400 websites examined passed both HTTPS and domain name system protocols, exposing the need for better website security. -- ITIF, 2018

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