Surfing to .. France

The Home page of the website for the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (http://www.insee.fr/en/) is clear, simple, easy to navigate and provides the required key data and most recent press releases. The number of releases shown on the day of the visit was just a couple too many – with the effect of pushing the bottom navigation from the visible area of my screen.

The left-hand column of the Home page has links to frequently sought after statistics and metadata. The first link was to the population estimates and the Census – with a note that the latter was available only in French. However, the former is only available in French as well – but not noted! The dictionary of definitions (metadata) was available to search online or to download in Excel format. On accessing the dictionary, the user is given an alphabet to speed access to the correct part of the list of terms. Even though this is a good start, it does not compare well with the offering from the European Statistical Office, Statistics Explained, which can be found at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Main_Page .

The central column of releases has nuggets from the releases, mostly including a key fact from the release.

On the right hand side are the key data. The presentation is effective, not only giving the user the key information about the data and its time period but also providing a link to the relevant press release and a separate link to the historical data. Each indicator is supposedly linked to further information: on the day of my visit, the first indicator was not linked to a data table. The others were and not only was the user presented with the latest release but also on the right-hand column, other metadata was presented including, for some, downloadable documents explaining the relevant methodology. I followed the link at the bottom of the list to ‘All indicators’ and was exceptionally surprised to find a link to the latest release as well as information on the date, time and data period of the next release. A linked page on the right provides the dissemination rules! Looking at these, the user is given the context of releases and the time INSEE will release the types of data. When this page is displayed the left-hand navigation changes with a great deal written in French.

Using the top navigation – which is easy to read – the first element is all about the office and most of this is available in English. The second element ‘Topics’, appears in English but following most then takes the language back to French language releases. The ‘Databases’ appear only to be in French – but the user is warned. So is most of the other material linked through the top navigation.

The organisation of this site has much to commend it: a thorough look around should produce ideas for your sites. Further, some of the content is well presented and, if it were all available in English, would make it an excellent site: I particularly like the presentation of the indicator information.

Happy surfing …

This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 30 December 2011 at 15.00 hrs GMT using a 30 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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