Which Party's Website's Doing Best?

The SNP's website is the best performing among six of the major parties, while Ukip's is the slowest, according to reliability tests by web experts.

Mirroring their strong performance in the polls, Nicola Sturgeon's party were found to have the site that performed the best when tested on the average response time to load, and also topped the chart for webpage availability - which measured how often the website of each party successfully loaded.

The analysis, which was carried out by app performance management firm Dynatrace, ran hourly tests on the websites of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour, Ukip and the Green Party, as well as the SNP in order to complete the research. The six sites were then benchmarked against one another.

The response time test - which recorded how long it took a party's homepage to load - saw the SNP sit top with an average response time of 3.38 seconds. Labour was second on 6.44 seconds. Ukip meanwhile was bottom of the table on nine seconds, more than second adrift of the Green Party, who along with the Lib Dems and the Tories were all in the seven second range.

Michael Allen, vice president of solutions at Dynatrace, said: "Digital technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, from socialising, to shopping and banking and politics is no different.

"This year's General Election is being fought on the digital battleground like no other before it.

"As voters try to decide on which way to go in the run-up to the election, they will be turning to the web to stay abreast of all the latest information on party mandates, politicians' promises and those all-important election gaffes.''

The hourly tests were carried out between April 9 and 27.

Despite Labour's strong performance in the response time, according to the data, getting the site to load at all was more of an issue. The webpage availability test saw Ed Miliband's party in last place, successfully loading 77% of the time. The other five parties all had a success rate of more than 95%, with the SNP again top on 98.77%.

"These days, it's not enough just to have a website, users expect them to be flawless and they're very unforgiving if they aren't,'' added Mr Allen.

"Slow loading pages can quickly lead to frustration and cause visitors to click off and go to a competitor for the information they need.

"It's a little surprising that there's such a divide between the parties' digital performance so close to the election; 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.''

The Lib Dems have been very active online during the election campaign so far, changing the party name on their official website to Liberal Democats after The Only Way Is Essex star Joey Essex asked Nick Clegg in an interview if that was the party's name.

The site has also used topical error messages in recent weeks, including one that read "Just like David Cameron's third term, this page does not exist'', in the wake of the Prime Minister saying he would not seek a third term should the Conservatives stay in power.

Labour and the Conservatives have both joined in with error messages of their own - the official Conservative website offers a short questionnaire to show how their long-term economic plan is helping users, while the message on the Labour site reads; "Well, this is rotten. But a 404 Error is still better than five more years of Tory government.''

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