Malta is one of the smaller (in population numbers) members of the European Union. Its statistics can be found on the site of the National Statistics Office of Malta (http://www.nso.gov.mt ). The first thing to strike the user is the small size of the Home page. The page does not have top navigation or any key figures. On the day of the visit, four press releases were noted in the centre of the page with a choice to select others by date or topic. Each release shown contained a key statement about the data in the release.
To find the standard items of population and inflation, I followed the left-hand link to National summary data – which took me to the IMF Standard Data link page which had some margin issues. Back to the Home page via the linked office logo at the top right, and to General Statistics on the right-hand navigation. This takes the user to a list of press releases and publications. Malta in Figures is the top publication: downloading the booklet provides data for population and retail price index for 2011.
To get to the real data, I had to register with the StatDB. Trying to do this, I was summarily rejected! My surname was not liked by the registration program because I have a hyphen in the name (the instruction said I could have up to 125 characters and spaces and I always thought a hyphen was a character). Removing the hyphen allowed access. Logging in was still a tortuous process and, having done so, I was taken back to the Home page not to the one I had chosen my series from! On following the StatDB link, I was asked to login again – but, on clicking that link, I was taken to the list of series I could access. The database access has a set of tables which are not particularly well sorted or themed so much reading has to be done to choose the right one.
Choosing Economy and Finance, the press releases were followed by publications and, finally, by data tables. I chose Retail Price index – and a server error was generated. I went back to the beginning and tried to follow through and was then successful in accessing the online database for the Retail Price Index.
From the left-hand navigation, Sources and Methods opens a page which presents information on the publication policy but no real metadata or links to it. One has to be aware that the left-hand navigation now has a sub-list of topics which leads to minimal metadata. This topic list would have been better at the top of the page opened first.
The Selected indicators link again opens a list of topics in the left-hand navigation. The explanation on the first page notes tables will be given: sadly many of the tables are in PDF format and practically unusable by the user without retyping as few have a full copy of Adobe Acrobat to unpick the data. Those tables in HTML format are much more user-friendly.
Despite all of the poor presentation, it would not be too great an issue if the data were at least kept up to date. The Main Indicators page within the Selected Indicators displays data in a PDF table for the years 2003 to 2007 without any explanation of where more recent figures could be found. If this table is not to be updated, remove it or retitle to Historic Indicators.
The site needs a major restructure and re-presentation of data in usable formats. It does not match the mission statement of the office at the top of the About NSO page.
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 9.0 on 24 May 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