Greece has been in the news again this past week and it reminded me that I had not yet visited their statistical website (http://www.statistics.gr/portal/page/portal/ESYE ). The site is the first referenced in a Google search for ‘Greece Official statistics’ but the link takes the user to the Greek version. A simple conversion to the English language version of the site is through the British flag at the top right. Most of the Home page in both languages is hard to read and the text size is fixed so that those wishing to enlarge it cannot. In the centre of the Home pages are the key data for the country – all left justified. In the Greek version, the separators used in the data are comma for the decimal separator and a full stop for the thousands separator; in the English version, a full stop is used both for the decimal and thousands separators!
I found the link to the latest data on Consumer prices in the press releases immediately below the key data: the link was to a PDF file – which makes extracting the data almost impossible unless one has a full version of Acrobat. So I went in search of the data in accessible tables. So from the top link on the left-hand navigation, I was given a list of the themes: ‘Prices’ was not amongst them. But I knew I wanted an index and so chose ‘Indices’. And in the list of indices there was an entry for the Consumer Price Index. Following this gave two options and I chose the CPI: this then produced a table of entries of months by years with three of the years (not consecutive) with a ‘cum.’ as the first entry. Following one of the months’ links goes only to the PDF file! So still no data. Back a page and there was a time series title above the table of months. Following that link did get me to the data in an Excel sheet – with all columns centred. As population was also on the list of items for indices, I chose this next. Six sub-themes were shown – but none of them had any indices!
Surfing through a few other offerings of data tables in Excel sheets, some did have the office’s heading at the top of the table (vital statistics) but others did not (e.g. Evolution of turnover for transport). In this section it is very unclear to the user where one is. On some of the first pages presented for a theme tabs appear at the top of the resultant page with time series, methodology, contact and ‘research data’: the latter only turns out to be the press releases!
One of the best tables I found was for the evolution of turnover for the motor trades: the data were right justified, the table had the office logo at the top and contact details for the responsible person were at the bottom of the table.
For some of the themes, the user is given a link to the Statistical Database instead of Excel tables (though the link at the top right is barely visible). I tried to access the database for several themes and only had a message that ‘An application error has occurred. Your session has been reset.’ I followed through via the site map presented in the top navigation but was given the same left hand navigation as from the top left-hand link on the Home page.
I then went to the digital library from the third entry in the left-hand navigation. I noted there was a Concise Yearbook: it had 332 pages bilingually in PDF format: the full yearbook shown had over 600 pages! Sadly the concise version was for 2009. Even the monthly statistical publication was only for December 2012 – nearly two years old. Was this because these series of publications have stopped in print? If so, please tell the user and label the publications as ‘historic’. Delving further into the publications available, I came across the Shipping Statistics which gave a list of years available up to 1997. I followed this link to find the computer downloading over 37 Mb of a PDF file without any warning of the file’s size.
This site’s developers need to think more of the user. The press releases just state where the information comes from without giving a summary of the key message. Also such links could give direct access to the data as well as a press release. This concept is discussed in Chapter 5 of my book. On the day of the visit two parts were cycling: a top banner and the press releases; both did stop when the mouse was hovered above but the different directions of cycling was very irritating. Consistency of symbols, decimal and thousands separators, presentation of spreadsheets needs to be improved. I found few examples of diagrams but most of those I did were presented in 3 dimensional block charts, including one on casualties from road traffic accidents for 2006 and 2007 presented as a map where each region had a separate block chart without any scale! I linked to this from the English part of the site but was presented with a Greek version without a warning that it was only available in Greek. Standards and consistency need to be improved throughout the site.
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 10 November 2014 at 16.30 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