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The UK Government needs to improve the quality of its Web sites, according to new research by Keynote Systems.

It analysed 35 sites and found that more than half were too cumbersome and slow-to-load for people accessing them with dial-up connections.

Seven out of ten of the sites had problems associated with browser compatibility, which could exclude some people from accessing those sites.

Almost half had between 10 to 25 broken links, including UKOnline.gov.uk, the Government's gateway to its information and services.

Worse still, one in ten of those sites studied had 75 or more broken links, with the British Army's effort heading the list with 148 broken links.

It seems that while some sites are kept spick and span (the Government Information and Communication Service got a special mention) other sites didn't do so well.

The conclusion? The Government's sites offer a mixed bag of quality and could do better.

"There were examples of 'best practice', particularly among new sites or portals established specifically to deliver e-government services to the general public, alongside government Web sites which had a number of integrity issues such as poor image optimisation, large pages and broken links," said the research.

A spokesperson for the Office of the e-Envoy said: "Departments strive to have accurate and timely information online. The Office of the e-Envoy have produced guidance on practical measures to set
standards and encourage consistent good practice.

"Government Web sites that are reliable, secure and easy to navigate have demonstrated significant levels of take up. NHS Direct Online receives half
a million hits a month. UK online is the fastest growing government website, with an average 119 per cent growth per month. More than 500,000 people use UK
online a month. ®

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