Surfing with Ed on the Internet…

by Ed Swires-Hennessy, National Assembly for Wales

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

From the small island of Barbados last month to one of the world's largest countries. This month I review the English site of INDEC, (http://www.indec.mecon.ar/), Argentina's National Institute of Statistics and Censuses which is also offered in Spanish. The Spanish site is much larger and contains more recent data than its English counterpart.

The home page of the English site loaded quickly and provides links to the five sub-sections of the site. The top link opens a page explaining the role and purpose of INDEC but the law and decrees under which INDEC operates are all in Spanish.

The first two segments of the Services to the Users section could easily be combined as much of the contact information is duplicated. The Publications and Products and Release Calendar sections are entirely in Spanish while the Other Web Servers section provides a useful, if limited, list of links to statistical sites around the world. The Special Events page is a good idea but doesn't not contain any information relating to events since July 1998.

The Main Indicators section holds the most up to date information on the site and displays summary information, with links to detailed tables, organised by theme. Various table formats are used including HTML, Word 97 and PDF but each table is offered in one format only. The HTML tables introduce horizontal scrolling even when there is no additional information to view. A substantial number of pages contain broken navigation links and a few of the documents cannot be found. Where PDF or Word 97 documents are used there is a link to a web site where the appropriate viewer or reader can be downloaded. It would be more convenient if the link was directly to the page where the download is available rather than the web site home page. The single format offering means that much of the data can be viewed but is not available for analysis. Some of the PDF files are indicated as only being available in Spanish and unfortunately some with no indication are also only available in Spanish. There are also several links which pass you to Spanish sites.

Of the four links offered on the Statistical Information section two link to Spanish pages and Maps is broken leaving only Statistical Synopsis to offer anything to English speaking users. Many tables are available but their presentation could be improved by reducing the left-hand frame used for links leaving more room to display the tables themselves. By adjusting column widths to eradicate unused space the appearance of many tables would also be improved.

As the final section available off the home page New Projects reverses the trend in the rest of the site by offering English pages off Spanish links. These pages are mainly text, well presented and easy to read. The Matrix Insumo Prodcuto page displays two image holders indicating incorrect links to the images.

This is a very large site that struggles to present originally Spanish information in English. Navigation around the site is quite difficult as there are no links back to the home page and the majority of links at the bottom of each page do not work. The site would benefit greatly from an overhaul to repair broken links and reformat the tables. Graphics have been used nicely to introduce some variety into the site without creating any serious overhead when downloading pages – though one uses inappropriate ribbon graphs and three-dimensional pie charts.

This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer version 5.0 on 23 February at 15.00 hrs GMT using a high speed link through Super JANet on a Pentium III 333MHz machine.

Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to

Ed.Swires-Hennessy@wales.gsi.gov.uk

Happy surfing ………….