Basic statistics for Germany are easy to access in English at http://www.destatis.de : my browser automatically found the English version of the site and a link on the top navigation allows a change to the German version (which contains a little more on the Home page). In English, the Home page is generally neat but fails only on one of the criteria for a good site – the page is too long. With some of the press releases of a different length, the casual user would not see some of the links below the page break. This could easily be solved by shortening the text with the release information to just the key headline: indeed, most of the releases shown on the visit day had the key headline as the first sentence. One oddity on the Home page – it is called ‘Home’ on the top navigation but ‘Start’ in the thread which appears just below the navigation.
The organisation of the Home page is good with the statistical links on the left-hand navigation and the administrative link information on the right-hand navigation. The key data – indicators – are the top of the list followed by a summary of the main accessed topic areas. Following the first link to short-term indicators, the user is given simple list of indicators and, on this visit, the information for the Production index was displayed. What a great combination of information for the user! A graph of the data is shown with tabs above to link to the data, with or without seasonal adjustment, and many links below to explore the topic from here in detail or to move to the topic area of the website. Both routes are worth exploring to give ideas for development. Links are given on this page to the EU and IMF indicators on the respective websites. Following the link to the topic area, more information can be collected and, on the right-hand side, links appear to metadata under the heading ‘What is .. What are..’. I followed the Production index link and found a good explanation together with information on who the main person responsible is and how to contact them.
Back to the Home page, I selected the sustainable indicators and followed a link in the middle of the received page to what appeared to be a report: it was a report in PDF format – in English – but no meta-information on the size of the publication or format was shown. Some elements of this topic were available only in German – but that was suitably noted.
I followed a link in the left-hand navigation to Regional statistics which provided text with clearly delineated hyperlinks. On the right of the page, I followed a link to ‘Publications’ and the page returned was all in German – as was the thread and all the left-hand navigation links. The language on the top navigation showed ‘Deutsch’ and all other links on this navigation line in English so even the website thought I was on an English page!
The main data delivery mechanism is through the GENESIS online database. The entry into it and initial links are in English but everything else is only available in German. I am sure, however, that if one sent a query to the office in English the data would be returned – but possibly with row and column labels in German!
Right at the bottom of the home page in the center is a link to the interactive applications. Many are similar to those available on the UK’s Office for National Statistics site but there are a few different ideas. One looks at air transport to various countries. Here the pictures and interactive nature of the presentation are good but the data presentation is appalling! The legend had five decimal places for some classes and, within the country information shown, three decimal places on share of total passengers. These tools look to have been developed by technical staff and not by data disseminators.
Nevertheless, this is a good site for ideas of layout, content delivery and philosophy. I am sure an hour’s research on the site will generate many good and useful ideas for your sites.
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 27 January 2012 at 12.00 hrs GMT using a 30 Mb link to the Internet on an Intel core i3-2000 computer.
This and reviews since January 2009 are published in the blog; earlier reviews are published to my website, http://www.surfingwithed.org.uk