Regulation with Rosie: Websites

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on making websites worth visiting.

Now that 70 per cent of households in the UK have internet access, the web is a medium that no sector engaging with the public can ignore.

The Charity Commission certainly can't. As part of our drive to develop our online services further, we commissioned a survey to find out what works for users and what doesn't.

The good news is that getting internet-resistant users online is no longer a problem. A full 97 per cent of respondents said they had been online for at least a year, and 52 per cent had been online for longer than seven years. So if a site is experiencing low levels of interaction, it's probably because of the site, rather than any Luddite tendencies among users.

We found that 52 per cent of respondents most often used the internet at work, compared with 38 per cent at home. Realistically, at least some of those 52 per cent will be using the web for personal reasons. For them, functionality, clarity and swiftness will be more relevant than flashing lights and convoluted links.

In terms of frequency of use, 87 per cent of respondents visited our site up to 10 times a year. That represents the difference between a visit every five weeks and every 12 months. If information isn't easy to find or functionality on a given day is poor, these users could be lost for months. Attending to the basics is crucial.

It's encouraging that 75 per cent of respondents had used our online services to file annual returns or accounts, but it was also valuable to know their reservations, including those about online security. Our services are secure, but it is important that potential users are reassured.

People want to go online. Let's make it as easy for them as possible.

- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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