I was hoping this month to review the new version of the UK’s Office for National Statistics web site (www.ons.gov.uk ) but, alas, it is not going to be ready for some months yet.
One of the avid readers of the blog has suggested a look at the new website of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics of Egypt which can be accessed at (http://www.capmas.gov.eg/ ). The first task is to change into English – the link being easily visible at the top left. The site was slow to load in Egyptian but slightly quicker to load the English version (as there is not quite as much there). The language link switches to the other side of the page and part of the office’s title is lost in the switch to English. The basic design is neat and clear to users though something was hidden behind the central graphic. On investigation it is part of the control for the constantly changing population information to the right of the central column.
This site is the first I have seen where the press information is minimal on the home page – though below the one link shown when I visited, a link is provided to the news archive. The user is able to select a time period of interest but not a subject.
Back to the Home page, the user is given summary information of key data: These data are arranged in three tabs: CPI, Labour Force and Trade Balance. The first of these tabs is visible on entering the site in English – so the first of my standard data items is instantly visible. To the top left of the Home page the total population of Egypt is given – just under the date and time. To see how easy it would be to find the same figure in other tables I thought I would look at the link provided just above the tabs is the central graphic (which fades in and out of view). This links to the population database based on the Census: here only the right-hand part of the graphic is hyperlinked – not the words! Following this, leads to a new window with a special query set up for the census information. After a few attempts which returned server errors, I did manage to extract the population data but only for the areas of Egypt and not for the country as a whole. The process was slow and not something that I would like to repeat too often – but the data was provided and could be exported. By exporting (options were PDF, HTML or XLS) to Excel, I could get the total for the country. Very clearly in the information provided is additional information – a simplified table, a map of the areas (which is hyperlinked) and a bar chart of the information (not very helpful with this data though it may be possible to sort the data). Selecting the icon to expand the map, allows the user to add area names, change colours and save it in various formats.
The one thing that stuck me on the Home page is its neatness. Just six links on the left and six on the right. The links are well defined and thus understood by users and have a very unusual one for any statistical office web site – Ask specialists. The link only leads to a query form but the user will be really impressed that they can get specialist help.
From the left-hand navigation, I chose the link to Egypt in figures: this returned a list of the chapters; selecting population then gave a list of tables. A similar presentation is given for the yearbook. This allows the user to quickly find the data they require. If this search fails, one can always resort to the top entry – Topics A-Z. This is also easy to use.
Comparing this site to the old one shows the amount of work that has gone into development. The result is a clean site with many things to commend it, the main one being the Home page which even had voting radio buttons to assess the new site.
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 27 May 2011 at 16.30 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