Surfing with Ed on the Internet…

by Ed Swires-Hennessy, Local Government Data Unit - Wales

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

The site of Denmark Statistics (http://www.dst.dk/HomeUK.aspx) uses the latest form of ASP for its web presentation. It is six years since I last reviewed the site and the current site is very different in presentation and in the philosophy of selling data - like Eurostat (reviewed in October 2004).

The home page could be very compact – and all on one screen - if the three book thumbnails were reduced in size and the accompanying text trimmed. Some confusion exists with the text for contact information all in the same (hyperlink) colour. In addition four of the five pieces of the title logo have the tool-tip as ‘logo’ which is very unhelpful to those using browser translators.

The releases for the day were available in Danish but not in English: the Danish version is presented in PDF format without a link to Excel sheets for the data. Thus anyone wanting to use the data would have to retype them. Indeed, several of the publications were available in PDF format only (the year book in English is only available in PDF format and not printed).

Following the Statistics link in the top navigation, the user is given nine choices – but one is for subscribers only: the link is active and will allow some navigation down the hierarchy – but, when calling for a PDF table, one is asked to log in (this log in request really should be at the top level). Looking at the Key Statistics, it is easy to get the basic data and more information is linked at the bottom of tables to the Statbank, a table generator based on PC-Axis. This table generator is easy to use and data can be exported to Excel, Dbase or SAS tables.

News from Statistics Denmark takes the user to a page offering releases by time, theme or via the release calendar. Only the release calendar is in English – and that links to Danish versions of the press releases. For the user there should be no doubt as to what language the resultant page should be in.

The second major navigation link at the top of the home page leads to the Guide to Statistics: part of this, the Declaration of Contents, is an exceptionally detailed guide about the statistics collected and published by Denmark Statistics and is a model for any other National Statistical Institute: contents for any one statistic includes definitions, purpose and history of the statistic, the sources of the data, the legal basis for collection, response burden, accuracy, comparability and accessibility.

Within the third major navigation element, one can find the whole telephone directory of the organisation – with all the e-mail addresses. Those with director positions also have their CVs and photographs. This section also contains the Core Values of the organisation.

Finally, I visited the Statbank. This provides easily accessible statistics in a form that can be downloaded into Excel tables. As the majority of information can be accessed freely, after registering, it surprises me that the use of PDF files is so pervasive in this site.

Overall, this site is easy to use and provides a great deal of information freely to the user. Minor refinements are required in the English version of the site to manage the user expectations and not lead the user to Danish versions of products without warning. Numbers within the text of press releases are effectively rounded – improving readability.

This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer version 6.60 on 29 October at 16.00 hrs GMT using a 2 Mbit link to the Internet on a Pentium M 1.6 GHz machine.

 

Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to

Ed.Swires-Hennessy@dataunitwales.gov.uk