Surfing to … Chile

This week it is the meeting of the International Association for Official Statistics in Chile. So a visit there appears most appropriate. The home page, http://www.ine.cl/canales/chile_estadistico/home_eng.php?lang=eng takes a little time to appear. This could be because of the large number of graphics or animations on the page – with each of the 36 graphics varying in size from 4 to 39k. The abundance of graphics makes it difficult to focus on the one you want – say if it is ‘Environmental statistics’. The last time I visited this site, the flash implementation of both slogans for the office and statistical highlights was distracting: worse that one could not click on one of the highlights to find out more! For this week, these slogans and highlights were replaced by a flash IAOS message – in Spanish. The economic indicator presentation in the left-hand column is novel with its own slide bar – and certainly beats the problems of space for the large number of indicators and the selection of a small number to display. The Home page is too long with too many graphics – leaving the user searching for the information they want.

The other navigation is easy to assimilate. The top navigation is small and could be improved by the use of tab shapes and larger text. Away from the main page, the Office’s logo in the top left of each page is not hyperlinked – to quickly return ‘Home’. Some way down into the site, I used the ‘Home’ button on the top right of the page – to be returned to the Spanish version with different stories at the top of the centre column!

The top navigation is good with drop down menus to provide more specific information. I looked for data and followed the ‘Microdata’ tab, Industrial microdata – and the language switched from English: Goggle helpfully translated from the Spanish for me to be able to run a table request. This was produced speedily in HTML format, with data well presented and the ability to copy the table into Excel. Some inconsistencies are apparent in the table presentation, however, between subjects. This table had the comma as the thousands separator and the full stop as the decimal separator: in a table of the labour force by age and sex, these were reversed.

Looking at the Economic Indicators in the left-hand column, it appears that some of the titles of the indicators are highlighted. Some, Retail sales and Electricity generation, link to charts, in Spanish (without Google offering to translate), showing the change in the series in the last 12 months: other are not linked. I would have expected these to link through to the press release for the series. Not having GDP or Unemployment rate linked to something was disappointing.

The wording of the top entry on the left-hand navigation led me to believe that this was a site map. However, following this link gives a list of statistics! Please rename ‘Statistics’.

In Methodologies, available only in Spanish, the office has given a file size for most of the documents (and they are reasonably extensive). However, I looked at ‘Building’, supposedly 622Kb, but was given a document of 2.09Mb – three times the size!

The yearbook is helpfully split into chapters for quicker download. Presented in PDF files though, this means that Google does not offer to translate. Perhaps these could be provided in a more user-friendly format.

Overall, the mass use of graphics for links is not user sensitive as the majority do not have the graphic in their mind when looking for those particular data. Fairly small changes to the presentation of the site would move this from a ‘Difficult to find your way around’ site to ‘A good site to find and get data’.

Happy surfing …

This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 22 October 2010 at 13.00 hrs GMT using a 20 Mb link to the Internet on a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz machine.

This and reviews since January 2009 are published in the blog; earlier reviews are published to my website, http://www.surfingwithed.org.uk 

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