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.

This month the beautiful sunshine made me think of somewhere with golden beaches, clear bathing waters and I finished up in the Seychelles. Their statistics are at http://www.seychelles.net/misdstat/ . This small web site contains few but consistent pages. One of the first things which is noticeable when visiting this site is the animated graphic in the top left hand corner of the home page. This is visually welcoming but very distracting. Similarly the animated buttons in the left-hand frame are distracting. They could indicate the place in the site simply with a change of colour, that is, without animation.

The home page is used to advertise the publication 'Seychelles in Figures 2000'. It gives details about the publication, the price, and an address to write to for more information. However, precise purchasing instructions are absent – particularly for overseas purchasers.

The only page within the site that contains any substantial text is the ‘Geography, Climate, History and Map’ page. It gives a general description about the islands as well as a brief history, all of which is useful to help gain a general background. A map is also provided so viewers can see where the Seychelles is located.

The bottom of each page is identical. Although this is usually a good practice, in this case a lot of the screen is used resulting in unnecessary vertical scrolling. The section contains the postal address and an email address that could easily be placed on a contacts page to avoid repetition. Also included is a scrolling text box displaying copyright and site author details. Scrolling text is often more distracting than practical and the movement may not be at the correct speed for everybody.

The left-hand frame contains the navigation buttons providing links to other areas of the site, but the ‘home’ link is broken. This is a simple problem to correct as it attempts to link to index.htm whereas the actual file extension used is .html. Alternatively, completely removing the file name from the path in the link would fix the problem. These buttons are all identical except for the 'feedback form' button which is a JPEG image file unlike the others which are animated GIFS. There does not appear to be a reason for the difference.

This site, like any other good site, provides a feedback form. Although very basic the form allows the visitor to categorise the feedback before adding their comments. An email box is also provided allowing the Webmaster to respond to the feedback.

The title of the ‘Statistical Publication’ page is confusing as the main contents of the page are explanatory notes supplementing tables published elsewhere on the site. A more practical application would be to publish each note at the foot of the relevant table. The contents of this page indicate that the notes and related tables are all extracts from the 'Seychelles in Figures' publication, but this is unclear. No information other than the title is given about the 'Other Statistical Publications' listed at the foot of this page.

All the other pages within the site consist of fairly easy to read tables of data. The alignment on 'education and health' is muddled between tables but this appears not to be a problem anywhere else within the site.

This is a small but easy to navigate site with the data being straightforward to locate. The main omission from the site is a description of the data.

This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer version 5.0 on 3 May 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 ………….