Surfing to .. Bulgaria

Just having returned from Bosnia and Herzegovina, I looked for a country nearby that used a Cyrillic script and decided to visit Bulgaria. The National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria (http://www.nsi.bg/indexen.php ) was the first link provided by a Google search on ‘Official Statistics Bulgaria’ – returning the English language version of the site. The home page is in very appealing colours though, like the UK, does not have the country name in the banner. The home page is too long – roughly twice the depth of a standard screen.

The top navigation is in white and produced drop down menus; other links below this are in blue. A small improvement to the navigation would be to link the key data shown on the right-hand column. Even following the link to the other ‘key’ data, no links are provided. This relatively minor part of the site is the simplest to improve for the user. All of the key data statements have numbers in them – and read well. The first sentence of the Press Releases in the middle column, however, does not always have the key message displayed.

The left-hand navigation is too long. One possibility is to introduce group heading with drop-out lists. Such structuring would also ensure the users can more quickly identify the topic they want.

The real joy from this site comes when one chooses a topic: the user is presented with a list of statistics available and an option to open the latest data or time series! Take population as an example. Here the user is given statistics arranged under six appropriate headings (though I would have had the sixth one first in this area). And even better, the user has above the lists tabs with links to the methodological information, press releases and publications. I could think of a few sites which could look here for inspiration!

A small anomaly in the tables presented: in the latest data a space is used as a thousands’ separator whereas in the time series (in Excel files) there is no thousands’ separator. Regardless of this the data are delivered quickly and clearly. If choosing the latest data, which is I believe in HTML, the user is given a link to the time series data at the bottom of the table.

From the top navigation, the Structure link from the About NSI tab takes the user to information on the senior staff including their telephone numbers, pictures and email addresses.

Overall this is a great site for ideas on both data presentation and organisation. Making the few minor changes would help the user significantly.

Happy surfing …

This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 7.0 on 26 September 2012 at 14.00 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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