Surrounded by snow, I tried to cheer myself up by visiting the website of a place with even more snow – Russia. The website of the Russian Federation, Federal State Statistical Service (http://www.gks.ru/wps/wcm/connect/rosstat/rosstatsite.eng/ ) is available in English or Russian. The homepage is called ‘Main’ and can be accessed from just a few pages within the site either from the top navigation or the hyperlinked organisation name in the header bar. When opening a table, a new tab is generated – without the ability form that tab to go via navigation back to the Home page or to the previous page. The Home page spreads to the width of the screen and is just a little too long. Practically all of the text on this page is hyperlinked!
Looking for the two standard statistics, population and inflation, was easy as the left-hand column was a thematic list of the available statistics. Population is the first and links to a poorly prepared table – with different typefaces used for the same parts of variables. Also the data were all surrounded by a double line grid which detracts from the data and the viewing of the trend in the data. The CPI data were also easily found under ‘Prices’ in the thematic list. The data were again encased in the double grid lines and the table was actually two tables joined: one for monthly inflation and one for inflation relative to the previous December.
On presentation, the tables in Russia in Figures do not have thousands separators. In some tables the fixed column width has meant that the type size has had to be reduced to show the figure, squashing 6 digits into the space for 5. As example, the Buildings put in place table (17.3) in the Construction chapter and the Refugees and forced Resettlers table (5.10) in the population chapter.
On all of the chapter pages from Russia in figures, a hyperlink appears at the bottom of the right-hand column to contact persons. All of the links go to one list – which is not bookmarked so the user would have to search the list for the right contact. But at least the name, telephone number and email address is given for the contacts.
The page header for Investments appears in Russian – but the page content is in English.
If one looks at the Russian version of the site, it is clear that much more is available. With the Google translator, much is understandable and one can access databases as well as press releases. I managed to access only one of the databases, that for regional data. Selecting data then allowed me to choose the years of information required from a list that was presented as
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2006, 2013.
I do not understand why this came in this order. In the tables produced, the data were centred in the columns but only with single grid lines between. Each of these tables was produced to a page without navigation shown for the user to go on. So, having gone down four layers, I had to return to the Home page with four clicks of the Back button.
The Russian home page has a link at the centre bottom to charts: these were fixed pictures and Google was not able to translate.
This was an interesting site to visit and just the metadata availability and the contacts is a thought for all. It would be useful to have better navigation on all pages of tabular output so the user can return either to the main subject heading or to the Home page.
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 9.0 on 23 January 2013 at 16.00 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