Surfing to .. Ireland

The site of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) of Ireland (www.cso.ie ) is a fixed width Home page which excels in clarity. The main issue I have with it is that it is slightly too long and runs of the bottom of the screen in the English version. On the day of the visit the right-hand side had a graphic announcing the second part of ‘This is Ireland’ – but neither the graphic nor the text below the graphic linked to this release: the link was actually in today’s latest releases in a section above the graphic.

On the Home page, the colour used for the linked text is different – and not as distinguishable – as the blue used on lower level pages. The top navigation does not offer the user a drop down of choices but loads independent pages with very clearly laid out options. The Statistics tab provides fixed tables – which look difficult to print but a ‘Printer friendly’ button is there to help with that. I looked at population by size of household and was surprised that the matrix from which the table had been generated was given as part of the metadata below the table but not hyperlinked.

If the user wants to download data, the choice should be the Databases tab. The CSO uses PC-Axis and they have made a great job of putting so much of their data into data cubes. Even the Census 2011 results are now available in the cubes. From the Census 2011, I looked at the cube of average age by area. Having made the selection of data in the standard PC-Axis variable boxes, the data were returned almost instantly. Having the data, it is then possible to map the data or chart it. For this data I used the mapping tool – and I had a very good and clear result.

Back to the home page to check whether the inflation figures were shown: the link to the latest CPI was there and the key data given and hyperlinked to a press release. On the Press Release section the key statistics were not shown: putting them here would be a good improvement. Within the release the heading had the key message, however, in bold and a larger type size to the rest of the text. Having my screen display the release, I then could not see the thread, nor the heading of the site so had to use the back button to retrieve the Home page: the reason is that the releases are in PDF format. This also means that any tabular data cannot be extracted easily (using copy and paste) for further use in Excel.

Towards the bottom of the right-hand column is a link to StatCentral which has a strapline saying it is the portal to Ireland’s Official Statistics. The link goes to a different-looking site – and the data are in tables. Footnotes to the tables are in black ink but this changes to the same blue as links on the other site but without a hyperlink.

This site has a lot to commend it – particularly the neat appearance and the simple to use PC-Axis which has been linked to a good mapping tool for appropriate data. Two issues mentioned above could be in the next editions. Some of the site is available in Gaelic – but links on that version of the site appear mainly to go to English language pages. I am sure any visitor looking would have ‘céad míle fáilte’ from the staff – a hundred thousand welcomes!

Happy surfing …

This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 28 June 2012 at 20.00 hrs GMT using a 60 Mb link to the Internet on an Intel Core i3-2100 3.1 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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