Surfing with Ed on the Internet…

by Ed Swires-Hennessy, Local Government Data Unit - Wales

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

 

My visit this month was to one of the new members of the European Union – Slovenia – (http://www.stat.si/eng/). The home page of this site is welcoming but contains too much information: the latest press releases are not even visible without scrolling! All except 5 words are in a fixed-size font meaning those with poor vision are not helped. Tool-tips are not employed, also causing some additional difficulties for the vision impaired. Navigation is mainly intuitive though the top bar has links in a different colour (and in capital letters): some headings have the appearance of links but are not. A preliminary WAP service is being tried (Finland have abandoned their trial).

 

The themes are reduced to three, with a general category. Following a theme link, the user is presented with a choice of sub-themes in a central column together with news items in a separate column: some of the ‘news’ were over 6 months old! Most of the theme pages were also too long with some interesting ordering. Indicators are at the bottom of the list, and following the link, one is told there are none. Within a sub-theme the two-column approach is again followed with even older news being listed. The right hand section shows indicators, if any, links to methodology and the data. These data links included the Yearbook and the central database (constructed around PC-Axis). Interestingly, following population only produced tables on migration and natural change.

 

The dissemination policy is not reached through a search but appears on a left-hand navigation list for either of the first two links ‘National Statistics’ and ‘Statistical Office’.

 

The publications’ link leads to an apparently unstructured list. I followed the Yearbook and was given a picture of the latest cover as well as some text. I thought this was a catalogue entry but then just spotted a line below the main top navigation that provides a links to the last eight volumes. The link-line is similar in design to those on the home page that go nowhere!

 

The population census is a lonely link – the only one without supporting text. And it was not working when I tried it. I have tried the Slovenian version and was impressed by the PC-Axis delivery of tables. Here again, though, the options could be improved by some addition hierarchical organisation of the available files. Another plus here is the meta-data delivered with the table titles.

 

The site does contain a great deal of data. Some is still in PDF files (e.g. Slovenian in Figures) where the files’ sizes are 3.3 Mb and 4.4 Mb! Don’t download these on a dial up line! It is clear more developments are on the way.

 

This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer version 6.60 on 1 December at 15.00 hrs GMT using a 2 Mbit link to the Internet on a Pentium M 1.6 GHz machine.

 

Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to

Ed.Swires-Hennessy@dataunitwales.gov.uk