Web Site Design

This summary of good and bad points of web design flows from the many reviews I have done of mainly National Statistical Institute web sites: these are undertaken for publication within the staff of the Government Statistical Service of the United Kingdom and are subsequently published each month on this web site. The fundamental points of design are, however, not dependent on technology and, in the main, were learnt in respect of paper publications. All too often the web presentation has not been developed by the paper publication team and has suffered from lost knowledge. As examples, I note the centre alignment of numbers in columns and the formatting of year column headings as numbers (with consequent comma separator and loss of digit, i.e. 1980 presented as 1,98)

Linked with the fundamental points of statistical presentation are those concerned with the technology being employed, be that CD-Rom, Internet or WAP. One has to examine the purpose of the presentation and adapt the output to the medium; for example, the use of PDF format does not facilitate the onward use of tabular data. The technology, however, does now allow the linking of tabular parts of Acrobat files to a spreadsheet of data (but the practice is rarely followed by statistical offices).

I have sorted the points of design into good and bad points under the relevant headings for Internet presentation. Users of this paper can use the points as a checklist against their own sites. Another area of concern in the later web sites is the accessibility to those with visual or hearing impairment: many statistical web sites do not take these problems into account in design.

Good points of Web Site Design

Structure

Navigation

Page layout

Text

Timeliness

Accessibility

Content

Bad points of Web Site Design

Structure

Navigation

Page layout

Text

Timeliness

Accessibility

Content

This summary can be freely copied and used provided the source is acknowledged.

Author: Ed Swires-Hennessy, Statistical Consultancy, 9 Arlington Close, NEWPORT, NP20 6QF, UK

 E-mail: statscon@ntlworld.com

 

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