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 summer holidays approach, many people are again making Spain their destination of choice. The Spanish National Statistical Institute’s web site is to be found at http://www.ine.es/en/welcome_en.htm. The first impression is pleasing on the eye – probably because of the soft colour chosen. The Home page is in three columns and it is another example of the introduction of tabs rather than navigation buttons for the top navigation – though these are currently quite small. But this site is the first I have seen to provide as the first link on the left-hand navigation a guide to the navigation on the site! It is in plain language and puts across the concepts easily. I tired the largest ‘A’ above this link to increase the text size and, after clicking twice, the whole of the text on the page increased significantly in size: this is the effect achieved by good design, clear specification and not using fixed size of font. Only the text in the graphics, including the CPI chart to the top of the right-hand navigation, remained in relatively small font size.

In the centre of the Home page are the key statistics for the country with annual changes. The top of the right-hand column has a very neat CPI chart with values being shown on mouseover. Below this graphic is the popular part of the site where the user can find out the information held by the Institute on their area, look at the popular names, search history and look through the new publications (called ‘novelties’). The forward and back arrows here have Spanish mouseover words.

So how easy is the site to use? The CPI is clear on the home page. Population data is also easy to locate. From the Demography and population link on the left-hand navigation, the first option is to link to the official estimated and the user is taken to the relevant overview page showing the INEbase information. For each table, one can see the objective of the table, the variables in the table and the time coverage. Going into the INEbase, the user has to go through several choice screens before having the data delivered – but the screens are only there because 64 tables are stored! Going for the first – and general table – the user then has to select options on the variables, in a similar way to the PC-Axis web delivery system (examining the site in more detail confirms that the delivery of data is through the PC-Axis software!). But the data appears very quickly and to specification. The data is in reusable form and can simply be copied and pasted into Excel: the resultant presentation is excellent.

I visited the electronic library to have a glance at the publications. Many are available and the base information for them all is available in English – but few of the actual publications are in English. So, following an English chapter link in the ‘Women and Men in Spain, 2010’ produces the chapter in Spanish – without warning. All of the chapters do have an indication of the file size but one could have tried to download the whole book (nearly 9 Mb) to find this out.

This site is good overall and provides easy access to data and metadata. The accessibility has been clearly addressed and successfully implemented – a first in my surfing experience!

Happy surfing ...

This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 1 July 2010 at 14.00 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. This and earlier reviews are published to my website, http://www.surfingwithed.org.uk 

Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to statscon@ntlworld.com