Drawing on a software engine developed by web firm Sitemorse, the index gives top billing to De Montfort University, which has risen 32 places (out of 292) since the last survey earlier in the year.
The next four places are taken by South Cheshire College, Guildford College of Further and Higher Education, Bishop Grosseteste University College and Hopwood Hall College.
The most improved site is that belonging to the American InterContinental University, London, which went up 190 places to 89th position.
Along with the University of Birmingham, De Montfort also scored the highest marks on accessibility, which has a significant impact on how far disabled students can take a full part in the social, educational and professional aspects of university life.
The index records significant variation between universities on other important measures. While the websites at Queen Mary, University of London and Loughborough University had average responses times as fast as 0.03 seconds, Sitemorse also discovered seven examples of websites on or beyond the 0.75-second limit which they believe “can have a negative effect on user experience”.
A Sitemorse spokesman said that around 40 per cent of would-be university students use websites to make their choices about where to study.
As a result universities and colleges need to “make it as easy as possible for would-be applicants by making sure their sites are error free, accessible and searchable”.