Surfing with Ed on the Internet…

by Ed Swires-Hennessy, UK Statistics Authority

Ed continues his appraisals of different national web sites to stimulate use of the Internet, share best practice and encourage debate.

The volcano in Iceland halted a great deal of vegetable and flower cargo from Kenya as well as disrupting people’s plans. So this month, I have chosen to take a look at the website of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics ( ). The fixed size home page appears to fit in one screen’s depth but has some redundant gimmicks, differing typefaces and poor legibility.  Then I noticed that the central part of the home page had scroll bars to the right and bottom: so, actually it does not fit into one screen view! The placing of a picture in this central section appears to have pushed the justification for the text to the right, necessitating the bottom scroll bar.

To get a broad picture of the country, I found the ‘Kenya Facts and Figures’ in the right hand list: this took me to the 2006 edition which contains some poorly presented three-dimensional diagrams. In the early part of the decade, I discovered that Kenya was developing quickly with an increasing rate of GDP growth.

The left-hand navigation is in four different styles, as are the lists that appear on rolling over the items. These lists could be improved by sorting alphabetically.

The central part of the home page contains the news items and the latest – at the top – was for the CPI. Opening this link, a table appeared in the central section, requiring the use of both scroll bars to fully understand the data. The typeface is very small so I tried to increase it (View/text size/largest) but, alas, only the heading increased in size. Going back to the Home page, I went to the 2009 Census page – a new window – which had a familiar slogan ‘Count me in!’. The Census appears to have a different branding from the main site – and looks ready to take information.

I tried a few of the links on the right hand navigation: some opened new windows and some did not. All of the files were in PDF format. Some of the links produced several useful items on the topic – and one gave the current forms for a range of surveys in PDF format.

The left-hand navigation does give access to a lot of information about the office and its management structure as well as to the statistics themselves. The summary tables are all presented in HTML format in the central part of the page – which enables the easy extraction of the data to Excel.

Looking back on my 2004 review of the site – it appears to have gone a little backwards. Two challenges face statistical offices when presenting websites: the first is getting a good coherent and usable design; the second is maintaining the information within the site and keeping relevancy whilst maintaining some history. Fundamental to both is a good set of written standards – with or without style sheets – which provides the web team with a reference and a guide. Applying these at all times avoids some of the consistency problems on this site. Also, for the colour issues, a useful site to reference is looking at the theory of colour use in web design.

Happy surfing ...

This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 29 March 2010 at 19.30 hrs GMT using a 20 Mb link to the Internet on a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz machine.

The views expressed in the review are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer. This and earlier reviews are published to my website, 

Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to