Summer has gone in the UK so, thinking of sunshine, I ventured this month to Uganda (average temperature in September is 27.7 degrees!). Entry to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics site (http://www.ubos.org/) takes the user to a centred, fixed-width, Home page. The entire page is visible and, though the user’s attention is directed to the ticker bar and the changing headings, the major links and the latest data are clearly shown. The Home page is unusual since it has some navigation tabs in the centre below the welcome message – but the concept works well and is sensibly used. All of the text used is fixed size – so cannot be increased by those with partial sight. None of the graphics at the top of the page have tool tips and are thus also not ‘visible’ to the blind and partially sighted. Within the site, the top panel, with the crests and page title are not hyperlinked – so one has to use the ‘Home’ link on the left-hand navigation to return to the home page.
The ticker bar contains the latest information – which is not replicated in the ‘Statistics at a glance’ page. It is essential that the quality circle is completed in updating the web pages and the person responsible for the data should always know where the data appear on the web and check that the appropriate updating has occurred with each new release of data. In Wales this week, I found a page for a survey with a sample size shown as 13,2000 instead of 13,200 – just because the original author had not quality checked the final version live on the Internet.
Following the ‘Statistics’ link on the left-hand navigation takes the user to a significant amount of meta-data but few statistics. The ‘Publications’ link on the other hand does lead to data. The Abstract includes not only data but sensibly phrased summaries for each topic of data within the chapters. Many abbreviations are used in the publication – and a very long list appears at the start to help the user: this is in addition to a three and a half page glossary. The approach to compilation is for the general user – with small tables, charts and commentary at the front of the book with many detailed statistical tables in the Appendix. Charts within the publication, however, give some challenges to interpretation: for those with data for several periods, the histogram bar spacing is equal – though the data points are not generally equally spaced in time.
Looking at the poverty publications, they are extremely large for single downloads as PDF documents (24 and 29 Mb!): this is a clear case where the publication should be split to be read like a book with a contents page containing links to each chapter and then an option of whole chapter or individual map downloads.
Overall one can see that the site is still being developed (some index headings are not yet hyperlinked) but the overall impression is one of specific design which has many helps for the novice user (and those who do not know much about the organisations within Uganda).
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 3 October 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.