Study Reveals Average Downtime of UK Government Websites

When searching for web hosting, one of the most important features is the amount of time your site remains up and running.

There is nothing more frustrating to visitors than clicking on a link, only to find that the page doesn’t load, or loads so slowly that visitors grow impatient waiting. At best, they try refreshing the page, but most often they will click off to another site.

The benchmark to shoot for is 99.9% uptime. Anything short of that is found lacking in one or more areas. Recently, a study of UK government websites was conducted by the website monitoring group, StatusCake. Here is a glimpse into some of what they found.

A Bit of Background

Before looking at some of the statistics Status Cake documented, it’s important to know just what this company is all about. Services they offer include:

  • Uptime monitoring
  • Server monitoring
  • Domain monitoring
  • Page speed monitoring
  • SSL monitoring
  • Virus scanning
  • Reporting
  • Global test locations

While most of those are fairly self-evident by the name of the service, global test locations may be a bit obscure. What this relates to is a website check from various locations around the globe, which can be chosen by the website owner based on where they wish to reach an audience.

Performance and Availability Study: June 2018

The group conducted their study of 2,653 UK government websites from 1 June through 30 June 2018. These sites had a URL suffix of .gov.uk and Status Cake specifically looked at website availability (uptime) and load times. Each site was measured against the StatusCake Uptime and Downtime Cheat Sheet, which makes conversions into time periods of monthly and yearly. Results are also broken down by days, hours, and minutes.



A Quick Look at Average Results

What the study found was that the uptime percentage for UK government websites averaged at 97.12%, which can be seen as falling far short of the 99.9% uptime benchmark to shoot for. In terms of load speed, StatusCake found this to average out to what they call “respectable,” at .97 seconds. Of all the sites tested, the Stirling Council website loaded the fastest at 0.01 seconds while the Sandown Council loaded the slowest at 9.76 seconds.

The Study Focused on Homepages of UK Government Sites

While each site was comprised of multiple pages, the study centredon homepages. When testing a domain that was unavailable, an error was recorded but that site was tested again. Each time the site was available or unavailable, an average was calculated resulting in their final score. As stated above, the test was conducted over a 30-day period, so the average was a true representation of the site’s performance.

The Ultimate Purpose of the Study

Although the study lists the best and worst performing government websites, the focus of the research was not to point out the best and worst performers. Rather, it was the group’s intention to get a better look at just how the average UK government website performed against an average benchmark of 99.9% uptime. In the end, more than 75% of UK government domains met or exceeded this percentage, so the group concluded that the governmentis “doing more right than wrong” in this area. 

Looking back, the one thing that became quite evident is that the best way to achieve satisfactory performance is by having a dedicated server. The performance monitoring tools available on StatusCake can help any website measure their performance in the abovementioned areas.

Finally, when it comes to the UX (user experience), it is vital to meet or exceed all benchmarks, which these tools are designed to measure.