Over the last few days I have been reviewing a lot of statistical websites to assess them against the design guidance criteria published on this blog site. I was particularly struck by two – New Zealand and Norway. The first because the Home page of the site is so inviting and the second because the summary pages for each statistical topic provides users with key information and appropriate links.
For this month, New Zealand wins. The site (http://www.stats.govt.nz/) has changed significantly since I last reviewed it in early 2009. The page sits easily on a full screen and is just so inviting. The balance of colour is pleasant to the eyes, balanced and provides all access required to the information. The three main headlines shown at the top left have pictures associated with the stories: note the pictures are also linked to the stories (many pointers and pictures on other sites are not!). The headlines are just that – including key statistics from the release.
On the top right, I am pleased to see the most popular statistics surviving this refresh
of the site. Just five are shown but a link to the top 20 is given and is in the same format as previously with the statistics and a link to greater detail provided. The other two sections on the right-hand side give details of the next releases and some quick links into the site.
The top navigation – just four tabs – summarises everything one needs: data, access to microdata and other services, metadata and organisational information. Opening the ‘Browse for stats’ tab really does allow the user to browse! The statistics are grouped into topics and alphabetically sorted within topics. The only oddity here is that population is not part of ‘People and communities’: fortunately it is adjacent, but, as the page is deeper than one screen-full, it does not appear on my screen without scrolling. Perhaps the heading here, ‘Estimates and projections’ could be replaced by ‘Population data’ for the uninitiated. A search for population retrieves the ‘key match’ as the population clock but also provides links to the other available data. Each subsidiary page appears to be as well-structured as the Home page – a great help for the user. We have ‘Information releases’,
‘Data’, and ‘Reports and articles’.
The metadata accessible from the surveys and methods tab is as you would expect for this
organisation – a clear hierarchically structured set of information. The first on surveys is a link for help to complete questionnaires or contact a survey advocate! Copies of questionnaires, methods and all other information one requires is there and, more to the point, generally easy to get at. The one possible area for improvement is the forms list: it is a list containing both current and historical forms and is incredibly long. The list appears one screen-full at a time but does have different ways of ordering it (by name, number or colour). One can also search the entire list. A list of current forms would be much shorter – with a link to non-current ones somewhere.
Much information on the organisation is accessed through the ‘About us’ tab. The organisation chart of Statistics New Zealand is provided – and excellently charted like a
metro map. Unlike Norway, the site does not have contact information for the people mentioned. Within releases one can get to a telephone number of a technical contact – but the e-mail address is the standard one for the information centre. However, releases do have well-structured links to key facts, commentary, definitions, related links, data quality, contacts and tables!
This latest presentation of the website is user-friendly, packed with information, easy to
navigate and provides some surprises on the way (interesting statistics appeared in the heading area on a couple of pages!). Anyone looking to redesign their site could spend some very rewarding hours looking at this one.
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 30 September 2011 at 11.30 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