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.

As the 20/20 Cricket was in action at the time of publication of the last review, one reader has suggested we travel to the Caribbean for this month. So, away from a wet and windy Wales to Guyana (

The Home page is again of fixed width and centred. Annoyingly, the cycling portion on the right-hand side attracts attention but, having read a short entry, I tried to move the mouse across to link to the full story and was not quick enough to catch the link before it moved on: with seven entries it took too long to get the interesting piece back. The page is also 4 screens’ deep and the first view omits the useful ‘Key statistics at a glance’ portion: available links are given here to more detail. The home page also carries two large advertisements for the 2010 Census – neither is linked to further information! The main part of the page is devoted to publications with a hyperlinked graphic, a short summary and a link for more information. The main office graphic is very dominant – and could easily be reduced to allow more visibility to data links. Unusually, the search box for the site is at the bottom of this right-hand section rather than the top. Entering ‘inflation’ in the search box returns three links (very strangely presented) in a new window: the first two results link back to the Home page and the third links to the Department of Prices where the data is displayed below introductory text.

Throughout the site, the main pages always carry the right-hand side of the Home page, i.e. the cycling information, large census advert and the key statistics etc.

I followed a novel link to ‘Local Newspaper Headlines of Economic Interest’. The visible summary was for October to December 2005 but the text explained a change in presentation. So I chose the latest period of just headlines but nothing was delivered. Other links in this publications section lead to bookmarks in a small number of pages and the results do not always appear at the top of the open pane.

Below the publications is a link to the organisational structure with a page for each department showing the name and telephone number of the departmental head together with a brief summary of responsibilities and links to data.

The main data publication is the Bulletin which available in a ZIP file. Opening this provides text and many charts and tables. Some of the charts are difficult to interpret as they are in the form of three-dimensional block charts and ribbon charts. Even some of the two-dimensional charts are not pleasing to the eye because of the shading. The charts and data are presented in individual PDF files which always open new windows! The presentation of data is not consistent and some tables have data centred in columns as opposed to right-justified.

Just think about the sunshine and ..

..   Happy surfing …




This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 5 June 2009 15.00 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.


Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to