With just a week to go until the general election, political parties have been warned they need to put ‘a lot more effort’ into their websites, after it emerged parties’ websites take almost double the standard time to load.
The six main political parties’ websites take on average seven seconds to load, more than double the recommended three-second standard.
Almost half of internet users (47 percent) expect pages to load in under two seconds and if a page doesn’t load within three seconds, over half (57 percent) will abandon the website, according to research by cloud services provider Akamai.
The Scottish National Party website leads the pack with a 3.4 second load time, according to hourly live tests conducted by digital performance management firm Dynatrace over the last month.
It also had the best availability score, with its website up and running 98.8 percent of the time.
The Labour Party had the second ‘best’ load time performance at 6.4 seconds, however it failed to load for almost a quarter of those trying to access it. This indicates “major issues with the way its site has been built”, the researchers said.
The Conservative Party, Liberal Democrat and Green Party websites all took over seven seconds to load and were available between 95 and 97 percent of the time. By way of contrast, most businesses demand over 99 percent availability for their sites.
However those wishing to visit the UK Independence Party website had to wait nine seconds for the home page to load, on average. “That’s an eternity in 2015,” Dynatrace said.
Web experts have expressed disappointment at the parties’ generally poor website performances.
“It is yet another sign (among many others available on the internet) that many of the parties can't procure their way out of a paper bag when it comes to digital. Let's hope the winners google how to build and host proper sites after May 8th,” public sector UX specialist Alex Blandford told Techworld.
“This year’s general election is being fought on the digital battleground like no other before it…You'd expect to see a lot more effort going into optimising the user experience given how important each and every vote is going to be this year,” Dynatrace’s solutions VP Michael Allen said.
However Sym Roe from Democracy Club, who built the ‘YourNextMP.com’ website, which lists information about prospective parliamentary candidates, suggested it is merely symptomatic of a wider lack of online engagement by political parties.
"Voters want to engage online – we’ve [YourNextMP] had almost three million pageviews already. But we think only about 70 percent of candidates are on Twitter, and we’re getting reports candidates aren’t replying to constitutents e-mails. Party campaigns are still very paper-based," he told Techworld.