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.


A change of continents … to Africa for this month’s visit and to the Ugandan Bureau of Statistics The home page seemed to take an age to download – because of the 120Kb picture of the office in the centre of the page.  The navigation menu bar at the top of the page did not load well onto my screen and I found the second line of options not visible.


Following the navigation to ‘Statistics’ provides the user with a significant choice of topics with basic data. The redundant graphic on this page is obtrusive and the font used in the left-hand navigation (serif typeface) is inconsistent with the rest of the navigation (sans serif typeface). The delivered presentation of population on my screen had the text overflowing the right-hand side – and, hence, unreadable: the table of data, again in serif typeface, purports to present projected population – with a source as the census; a clear case for two tables. For education, some helpful comment and charts assist the user but the table, started in sans serif has had the last year added in serif typeface. The data here appear to be left-justified in the columns instead of right justified. On Income and Expenditure, the typeface use is the opposite of Education but the section includes a 3-dimensional graphic with some other presentational problems. The presentation of the data in the cartography section mixes left and centred data.


In contrast to the quick and summary statistics section the National Statistics Databank allows access to much more data in either PC-Axis or Excel format. The publications section lists publications and their prices but does not indicate how to get hold of them. The activities section is a well-presented business plan for the office and following the links in the left-hand navigation leads to more detail of the headings. The front page of the summary could have the contents hyperlinked to the same descriptions and the navigation links that are not active should be removed.


Within the ‘What’s new’ section the Key Economic Indicators presentation is a clear indication of where the office is going in terms of presentation and this excellent web presentation – highlights, detail and hyperlinked tables - is marred by the gimmick of a moving heading. The Compendium of Statistical Concepts, currently only a draft, is a great start: at the present this is essentially one document in PDF format; as the Compendium expands, thought is needed as to how to deliver specific parts more speedily. It may be that the full document stays as it is for downloading and printing but another version is created for more specific references that will deliver just the relevant portion in a new window (like the CBS Netherlands’ new version of StatLine).


The top link referring to the Census in 2002 returns a ‘Page not found’ but the census link is active on the ‘Plans’ sub-menu!


This site is obviously being developed. A few moments of reflection now on the standards to be applied would greatly benefit the development: the formatting, typeface and philosophy used for the Key Economic Indicators pages is a model that could be used.


This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer version 5.0 on 28 May at 13.00 hrs GMT using a 256 Kbit link to the Internet on a Pentium III 866 MHz machine.


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This and earlier reviews are published to my website,