Using Google to search for the website of the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic (http://portal.statistics.sk/showdoc.do?docid=359 ) returned the link to the proper website in the first two references: the first to the English version of the site and the second to the Slovak version. Choosing the first link, the Home page was displayed in a crisp format. The majority of the text on the page comprised hyperlinks though with a little confusion in that the small amount of red text was also hyperlinked (and a small amount of the blue text was not). The hyperlinked words for the press releases mainly only noted the title of the release and indicated nothing of the message from the data: the exceptions to this were two clear statements in the most recent two. The trade surplus was noted in the headline as Eur 3 555,7 million: I am sure the ‘,7’ is not necessary. Too often those presenting such information act like accountants and not as information providers.
I searched for the two standard pieces of information, population and inflation. For the first, I followed the demography link in the Main Areas list in the left-hand navigation which opened a sub-list and then a list of tables. I chose the first – population at NUTS level 1for the latest period: an HTTP error 404 was returned in Slovak. Moving back to choose the NUTS level 2, the table was provided with the data centred in the columns! Inflation was not as easy to find – the link to Prices is in the Macroeconomic Statistics area – but not many of the public would know that. Following Prices produced a list of press releases: I chose Consumer prices – and some of the paragraphs read as if the table was being read, line by line with many numbers indicated – and not the main highlights. On a positive note, to the right at the top of the release was a link to ‘more detailed data’. This is an understatement as the link does not only link to data but the page returned also has links to the various metadata and methodology pages. The simple ‘Methodology’ page links to the IMF Slovakia page on prices. Following the data link, the table shown is right-justified in the columns.
The main element of the top navigation is the About Us tab. This has the important information about the office including an organisation chart. This latter item is in PDF format and so without direct links: however, another time in the list does give the contact details for the senior staff, including their email address and their telephone number (twice with the same number for almost all of the staff!).
Next I tried the Slovstat database but was disappointed that the presentation was all in Slovakian without warning. Using the browser’s translation facility, it is clear that I have to register before any use can be made of the time series database.
For the Urban and Regional Statistics database translation was not necessary: full English and Slovakian versions are available. The data in this are generally consistent in presentation though, in a brief look, I did find a thousands separator missing from the Bratislava I-V summary. The Urban Audit database, when looking at Bratislava as a whole, presented a population table in a most unusual format.
The tables I opened could easily be copied into Excel but, below most, the user is told of other options, e.g. export in XML format. The last one I looked at, Internet in Households, had some options at the bottom of the table – but did not have a thread at the top of the page to allow the user to get back to the Home page: even without the thread, it is possible always to have the office logo hyperlinked to the Home page but this also is not done here so the Back button has to be used.
This site is generally consistent in data presentation and has several good features. A small effort on the press release headings to present the key finding for all instead of just the latest two or three would enhance the user’s understanding of the data without having to read the whole release.
Happy surfing …
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 9.0 on 5 November at 15.30 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