Reviewing the places I had surfed to over the past few years I noted that South America had not featured too prominently. So today I surfed over to the Brazil Institute of Geography and Statistics (http://www.ibge.gov.br/english/ ). Unusually, the Home page is split into four columns in a fixed size page – but it works well with the information presented. The logo of the organisation is hyperlinked but when using the English version of the site, using the hyperlinked logo takes the user to the Portuguese version of the Home page. On the day of the visit, all items on the right-hand column were only in Portuguese but one can deduce where to go for the Census information!
The top navigation belies the links available. Instead of simple drop-down lists for each of the seven tabs, incredibly complex and long lists are given though they are structured. The left-hand navigation produces expanded lists for each of the topics: some with English descriptions go to Portuguese text without warning. Some of the content is a great resource for teachers and presented in a novel way (e.g. Brazil – the 500 years of settlement).
The third column gives key statistics with acronyms for titles: they are the Portuguese versions and meaningless to English speakers. The information in the key statistics is not hyperlinked to the latest release on that topic. In the charts below where all four acronyms appear, tool tips give English explanations. The charts themselves are better presented than some I have seen in that they do not cycle but are a set for choosing. The tool tips help not just the English speakers but similar tips appear on the Portuguese version. When rolling over one of the chart tabs, the colour of the text changes to red: unfortunately when selecting one of the tabs it appears as the rest apart from a hardly distinguishable outline – so it is not actually clear which is selected.
My two key statistics I search for on every site are not both in the key statistics pane. So I go to the left hand navigation and choose Themes: the sub-list does not give me anything directly for the statistical themes – but it does note that some of the elements (on roll over) are only in Portuguese. The information here is for schoolchildren with some parts contained in very large PDF files (17 Mb). So I tried the Database tab and the databank, even though not in English. I was presented with a warning message that the site’s security certificate had a problem. So I tried the next item in the list – Statistical series (which did not tell me it was in Portuguese – but was). Back to the Home page, the second of the top navigation tabs is Population. This gives an extensive choice: the first column of choices is not Population! I chose Census 2010 and had a brief summary with the figure included. From a navigation perspective, the drop down list here uses blue text that for hyperlinks and not hyperlinks.
The site has many good points and the link with geography is obviously beneficial. However, many inconsistencies are present and the organisation of the site is not simple to use. Some of this could be because of translation but choosing Population Count from the second column of choices in the Population drop down list produces another long left-hand navigation list, the first two of which are identical – but do not produce identical results.
The worst aspect of visiting this site was the extremely large number of new tabs opened in my browser. Navigation should be clear, retraceable and always have recourse to the Home page.
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 9.0 on 30 April 2013 at 09.00 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