As last month, Estonia is also one of the more recent members of the European Union. Their Statistics Office (http://www.stat.ee/en) has an extremely long Home page (almost 5 screen depths) but all of the news stories have a key message and the Key indicators have an arrow marker to indicate whether the situation in that indicator is improving or not. These markers are a little confusing to the general public as they do not understand immediately that indicators can show an improvement by going up or down, depending on the indicator. On the day of the visit, the population indicator’s marker was red and going down but the change in the consumer price index’s marker was green and going down. The white on red in the banner works well but the orange less so. The colour of the Find statistics leads the user to think that this colour is used for hyperlinked text but the same colour is used for the release headlines and they are not hyperlinked! But the same colour in the Main indicators section does link to more detail.
Below the key indicators on the right-hand side is a jumble of hyperlinked items without a main or sub-heading. Strangely, following the Main indicators’ heading, the user is presented with more indicators but also a sub-heading on the right ‘Find statistics’. Why this latter heading is not in the right-hand column on the main page, I do not know. But the hyperlinked heading ‘Find statistics’ is in the banner of the Home page and following that link brings up a list which is identical to that under the indicators!
Within the release sections, some charts appear – practically unreadable and not expandable. Perhaps in the release itself? So I opened the release and the chart was now readable but also appeared to be hyperlinked: so I followed the link and the result was an Excel table of the data used in the chart shown (with different font sizes for the two columns). The months were only shown in Estonian and the sheet did not have an origin (see Chapter 5 of my book for a simple way to ‘own’ spreadsheets).
Next I went to the pre-defined tables from the right-hand column. The user is given a list of subject areas with the subjects sorted alphabetically with a group heading. Choosing Transport and then the first table on vehicle registrations, the table is given in a neat format with the link to the Excel version of the table at the bottom (I have seen this at the top of tables on other sites – which means the user does not have to scroll through a long table to find out if it is available in Excel or not). I also looked at the shipping traffic table which summarises the year’s data at the start of each year block: this row is also in the same place in the Excel table – which is a little frustrating to the users of the data – they have to delete or move these rows before using the other data to chart.
One interesting area of note is the data visualisation section which is shown as the Statistics eXplorer in the right-hand column. I looked at the population section and found that the charts here show the data values on the chart which is distracting and superfluous since the data are shown when the mouse is rolled over the particular bar. Also, when looking at the data for an individual county, the scale of the chart changes so one does not get a measure of the size differences between counties. The maps option is available in English and Estonian but the Estonian option was provided from the English page.
Throughout the site and the publications inconsistencies are clear both in terms of the decimal separator (both a comma and full-stop are used) and the thousands separator (both a space and a comma are used). Consistency would help the novice user. Some organisation of the Home page and the collapsing of the right-hand navigation would assist the users. Having the key messages with dates and hyperlinked to the releases would greatly reduce the length of the page.
Note: Ed’s book ‘Presenting Data: How to Communicate your Message Effectively’,
ISBN 9781118489598 was published by Wiley on 12 September 2014.
This review was undertaken by Ed Swires-Hennessy using Internet Explorer version 9.0 on 13 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