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.

The news on the television has just forecast more snow for parts of the UK tomorrow! That took my mind North to Norway and the Statistics Norway website at ( ). Unusually, the Home page is spit into 4 columns but all fits into the one screen. The navigation is clear with a set of top navigation coloured pale green with the other hyperlinked text all blue. Another unusual element of the Home page is that increasing the text size does indeed increase ALL of the text on the page – apart from that in the office’s logo.

It is obvious that a great deal of thought has gone into this page’s design. The left hand column is an entry point to statistics with over 30 themes – but with another interesting feature – a keyword search that allows the user a more precise way into the data. For example, unemployment is not a theme of data in the left hand column, so I went into the A-Z index, clicked on ‘U’, and found Unemployment. Following this link gave several references, including the Yearbook: I took the second, Unemployment among immigrants, and was presented with an article summarising the data, followed by links to tables presented in HTML format.

The second column on the Home page provides details of the press release on the latest statistics, with a simple list of what is due out tomorrow – and a link to the complete release calendar.

The answers to my two key questions of a site – population and CPI – are provided at the top of the third column on the Home page each having a link to more detailed data. The population link went to a page of fascinating facts (2009 had highest births since the early 1970s; total fertility rate amongst the highest in Europe!). On the right of the page are a few diagrams with very small writing, but they enlarge with the expected double click into something readable.

The second section of the third column links to publications. Follow the link to the ‘This is Norway’ publication and the user can either select to download a chapter or the whole publication – in PDF format. On the other hand, all of the Statistical Yearbook is available in individual HTML table links! Choose a chapter and then choose your table – which you can then copy and paste for onward use.

And now the real gem! At the bottom of the list of ‘Other entry points’, beyond links to much more data, is ‘Metadata’. The first screen provided appears to give just a little but that belies the truth. Take the first link in the first column ‘About the statistics – sorted by subject’. Then follow a subject of your choice. I followed ‘Waste accounts for Norway’ and ‘Housing Census 2001’. In both cases, the history, detail and summary information is even better than what the UK trialled many years ago (which has not been maintained). Revisions policies, links to legal regulations, users  … glossary, for each set provides any user with sufficient to understand the provenance of the statistics.  And whilst looking at a metadata page, the left hand column provides links to the latest articles, tables and contact.

The top of the final column of the home page provides some fun. Enter your salary in 1990 and then compare the result of the calculation with what you earn now to see if your salary has kept pace with Norwegian inflation. Also, an option to see how many people in the country have the same first or last name as you. Seven Hennessy’s are recorded!

The design of this site in terms of accessibility to the data, metadata, and use is excellent. Exceptionally in my reviews, I could not think of anything I would want to change!

Happy surfing ...

This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 29 March 2010 at 19.30 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, 

Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to