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.
This month’s review is a little late as I have just been driving on an aid convoy to Romania which takes three days driving just to get to the border! Surfing there takes less than 3 seconds to reach the website of the Romanian National Institute of Statistics (http://www.insee.ro)! A couple of the graphics take a little time longer than the 3 seconds to appear and, switching to English via the link on the top right of the home page, also produces a similar delay. Investigating this shows that the three very small graphics for the Labour Force survey results are around 2 Mb each and one on production and services just under 1 Mb: these need serious reduction. Two other points stand out: first the page title starts with ‘Blandware CMS 0.52’ and, second, the changing graphics of the conjunctural indicators both change too fast and are in Romanian. The INS logo at the top of some pages within the site link back to the same page and not to the home page.
The home page is too long and very busy with four changing elements calling attention. However, some very interesting and specific elements could be copied by others. This is the first site where I have seen ‘metadata’ as a direct link (right-hand side navigation). Using this link opens a new page (strangely, from an English page to the Romanian version but with a link to the English version) which allows the user to investigate a database of information about the statistics. At present going beyond the first page is all in Romanian – but the concept is clear for all to see. The main time series database requires registration for access and some parts are chargeable. All database links open in a new window – which is against netiquette. The last of the links is not to a database but to a PDF file of the publications catalogue (all 7 Mb of it – without warning). I remember a previous review of this site where I found the Yearbook was 18 Mb and to be downloaded before I could find the population figure: not so now as, following the first link on the left-hand navigation, the user is presented with a list of chapters in PDF format, each of which is quick to open.
Other key bulletins are given in the top left-hand navigation followed by specific links to those bulletins published in each year, sorted by bulletin. This enables users to find the related earlier bulletins simply and quickly – but even these open new windows! Data presentation in the bulletins is not consistent but that is an issue with the producers not the website itself.
I thought to follow one of the graphics of conjunctural indicators to see if the relevant bulletin was, like other examined, bilingual in Romanian and English. But they were not linked to anything.
This site is obviously under development, with EU assistance, and great efforts have been made to make as much information as possible available to the public both within Romania and in the wider world. When I had finished the review, I had over 20 open windows of Internet Explorer: this part of the operation of the site needs urgent attention.
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 6 November 2009 at 14.00 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, http://www.surfingwithed.org.uk
Please send and comments and suggestions for sites to review to email@example.com