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, I travel halfway around the world to review the site for the National Statistical Office of Papua New Guinea. (http://www.nso.gov.pg/) This is a site entirely in English.
The homepage loaded rather slowly largely due to it being almost entirely pictorial. An animation in the top right hand corner this loads quickly and is not too obtrusive, but the fast moving animated text at the bottom of the screen is unnecessary and off-putting. The links on the top are rollover buttons so there is no way of telling which pages you have already visited, however they are easy to use and use contrasting colours. There is also a set of normal text links at the bottom of pages but not on the home page.
The About NSO page contains a large amount of information about the National Statistical Office including links to another three pages, each describing the work of specific sections. These three links are duplicates of those contained in the navigation bar at the top of each page and therefore not necessary in the body of the text. The Contact and Related Links page, rather confusingly, has two separate buttons linking to it. The Contacts button is always highlighted when you view this page regardless of which of the two available buttons is used to display it. On the homepage there are what appears to be a pair of links to Contacts and Other Useful Links at the bottom of the page, which do nothing. Further, the Publication Subscription page has a link to an order form although the link does not work.
The 2000 Census has a mini-site devoted to. The top of the page has links from buttons with text beside them. However, there is no linking facility from the text, which is where many people would expect to link from. The site contains very comprehensive information about the census, the need for it, and the way it was carried out. These pages have good navigation on the side to link down through the document but could have been improved by links back to the top in places other than the bottom of the page.
On the third page Census Operational Plans, without any mention of it anywhere else, some basic population data from the 1990 census is given at the bottom of the page. This would have been better if it were on a separate page with better links. The title for these data is placed at the bottom of the text and is still inside the text box. This could have been improved by being in a separate section, even if it wasnt on a new page. The first table is well laid out, however the growth rate figures (which I assume are in per cent) should be stated as such. The second table could have been improved by adding in borders like the first table and putting all the section headings in the same row. At the bottom of the page, there is a 3-D exploded pie chart. Whilst this is very nice graphically, it is a misleading form of graph to use as it makes the front items look bigger than they actually are, and the back items conversely smaller.
Overall, the site is of a reasonable standard but a few minor changes could greatly improve things. The major omission, however, is the sheer lack of data. Its all very well, and very useful, to find out about what they do, but some more published data would be nice. Do all the links on your sites work as you would expect them to? And what about links on sites you visit? If not, do tell someone - and help improve the sites.
This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer version 5.0 on 22 October at 10.00 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
Happy surfing .
This and previous reviews together with web usability guidelines can be accessed through