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.

 

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.

 

Africa was the thought running through my mind as I set off surfing .. and I thought a country like Nigeria would have a good web site. It took me a little time to find the site of the national Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria (http://www.bosng.org/index.php ). No reference was found to the site through Google using ‘Official Statistics Nigeria’ as the search term. No joy. Eventually I linked through another NSI site. The site is very poor and I changed my mind.

 

As an aside, I tried searching with ‘Official Statistics UK’ and the National Statistics Online site was number 1 result with Scotland and Northern Ireland in third and fourth place: Wales was at number 14 – and not directly to the statistical part of the site. The second reference was to ‘statsbase.gov.uk’ – which returned an HTTP 404 error! Have you checked how accessible your statistics are to the outside world? It is not much use producing good websites if they cannot be found!

 

So another direction .. to Ukraine (http://www.ukrstat.gov.ua/ ). The web site takes the national colours as the theme but the language switch to English is not to a separately defined page. So the user will have to follow the link at the top right of the home page marked ‘Eng’.

 

Design

 

This home page is very clean and welcoming: the summary news items on the day I visited did not quite fill the central space: later in the month this part will stretch across several pages as does the macroeconomic summaries on the right. The size of the graphic at the top of the page has been optimised. However, further down into the site, a particularly annoying flashing graphic has been used for ‘New’: such should be avoided.

 

Navigation

 

The top navigation is split into two lines with different styles: the language links on the top right would be better with national flags of Ukraine, Russia and the UK: ‘ENG’ is not good as an abbreviation. The second line of top navigation has just four elements: the first, ‘What’s new’, actually takes the user back to the home page; the second, ‘Statistical information’ leads to a long (unsorted) list of topics. Note the different (underlined) links on the news items. Moving to the hierarchical subjects within the statistical information, the list produces sub-lists, again with different (underlined) links.

 

Where the left-hand navigation has additional options, a list appears to the right: these use the reverse colours of the main navigation – which is generally used elsewhere in the site. The macro-economic snippets of information are not linked to the press releases from which they were extracted. A simple ‘More..’ as a link would suffice.

 

Data presentation

 

I followed the Demographic situation link, and chose the first sub-link to the total population. The data do not have any thousand separators. At the top of the table, links lead to archive tables: going to 2004 gives a monthly list in reverse order – with a 2005 month at the top! (this table is rounded to hundreds). All data is presented in HTML tables – and can thus quickly be downloaded and copied into other products. The Population Census link takes the user to a different site – currently under redevelopment.

 

General

 

The site does give some organisational information with the head of each of the units having contact information: the senior management are not noted.

 

Overall

 

This site is a easy to use though could do with a standard overhaul to make it more pleasant for the eyes and a little more intuitive.

 

This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer version 5.50 on 4 November at 14.00 hrs GMT using a 2 Mbit link to the Internet on a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz machine.

 

Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to

Ed.Swires-Hennessy@dataunitwales.gov.uk