Latvia is one of the more recent members of the European Union and the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, Latvijas Statistika, has an inviting website Home page at http://www.csb.gov.lv/en. The use of different background colours in the top navigation is pleasing to the eye and they appear to have been chosen well to give the required contrast. Within the Home page, split into 4 columns, the usual elements appear. However, in addition, Hot topics is at the top of the third column with cycling charts. On the day of the visit, the inflation graph had different colours for each part of the line – very unnecessary and almost indicating differences in definition that are not there.
Most navigation is either through the white text in the top navigation or through blue text. Sadly, black text on the Home page is used both for links and text (of the News releases). And bold black type on the left-hand navigation is just for headings whereas in the news releases, the bold type is hyperlinked.
I first surfed into the database link at the top of the left-hand navigation. This produced a large list of available data cubes grouped by theme. A most unusual find was the list of historic data cubes at the bottom of the list. Even though this is shown as 1920s and 1930s, the population data is available back to 1800! And population was not the only subject in the list to have data outside the advertised range. The system used for examining these cubes is simple to use and produces the required diced and sliced table very quickly. Some of the data requires a little refining, for example the length of railway line does not need the decimal place. Because of the length of the list, it may be easier for the user if just the group headings were shown with each being hyperlinked to the group’s contents. This also applies to the list of Key indicators.
Looking for the CPI in the database was easy and I soon found the table required. Choosing to look at the annual data only and for all goods for the last four years, the table presented was clear and simple.
Continuing down the left-hand navigation, the site offers some infographics. Many are large and need some attention to the data presented (some of the prices are given to two decimal places of the local currency whereas no decimal places are required. But at least an attempt is made to communicate the information of the office in a meaningful way to the general user.
Publications are available on line. Choosing a theme of statistics from the left-hand navigation the user is given a new top navigation which takes the user to one of four sections: Key indicators, Database, Metadata and News. Selecting News, the user is given a list of the latest news items, usually with a very brief key message. Similarly, the news releases in the second column of the Home page also give a key message.
The site is easy to use and navigate around. Some inconsistency of data presentation is apparent (with a space as a thousands separator in publications but without a separator in some database tables). The historical data should be defined more clearly to encourage more people to look at them. As the number of data cubes increases, some attention will need to be given to arranging the tables in a clearer order, perhaps just showing the titles in groups and then showing the remaining detail when the table is chosen.
Note: Ed’s book ‘Presenting Data: How to Communicate your Message Effectively’,
ISBN 9781118489598 is due for publication by Wiley on 12 September 2014.
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 9.0 on 11 September 2014 at 14.00 hrs. GMT using a 100 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